Insomnia isn't always the same for everyone. Some may experience short bouts of insomnia as a result of temporary stress of environmental change that is disrupting their sleep hygiene. In such cases, improving nightly sleep habits may be all that is needed to treat insomnia. For others, it may be more complicated. When insomnia symptoms last for weeks, months and even years, chronic insomnia may be to blame.
What is Chronic Insomnia?
Chronic insomnia is diagnosed when a person experiences severe insomnia symptoms for three or more nights a week and those symptoms last for three or more months. Symptoms of chronic insomnia are not unlike those of general insomnia. They just happen over longer periods. It generally starts after experiencing short-term insomnia. For example, the person could spend their nights worrying about not being able to sleep. That worry could cause more sleep deprivation. Eventually, this creates a cycle of not sleeping and worrying about not sleeping, which could extend short-term insomnia into chronic insomnia. It can also be caused by different types of medical disorders. In Australia, roughly 5% of the population experiences chronic insomnia. But, of that number, 75% of chronic insomnia sufferers can attribute their symptoms to pre-existing medical conditions.
Among those conditions that cause insomnia are:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Chronic insomnia sufferers may go years without realizing that they have insomnia. It becomes so ingrained in their everyday lives that they get used to only sleeping three to four hours a night instead of the suggested seven to nine hours. They believe that their bodies are simply used to it. However, chronic insomnia is far more dangerous than other types of insomnia. Due to the extended duration, any negative side effects of insomnia, such as body aches, memory loss and emotional instability, will be experienced daily. These side effects can take a toll on the body and cause more health issues in the long term.
Chronic and Acute Insomnia
Where chronic insomnia represents long-term symptoms, acute insomnia represents the short-term. Although they share similiar symptoms, acute insomnia causes are often due to outside sources. Temporary stress from a job or school, poor sleep schedule, emotional changes and environmental changes all lead to acute insomnia. It often is connected with primary insomnia, insomnia which is not caused by any kind medical conditions. Chronic insomnia is linked with secondary insomnia, symptoms caused by certain medical conditions.
Also unlike severe insomnia, acute insomnia tends to last only days at a time. Most people with insomnia are experiencing the acute type. Often medicine is not necessary. It tends to clear up once the source of the insomnia is taken care of. Regulating sleep schedule and creating a relaxing sleep-inducing environment can be the best treatment for acute insomnia. One possible solution for acute insomnia may be SHUT-i, a self help insomnia treatment program that is proven effective in remedying problems falling asleep, waking up during sleep cycle and lack of refreshing sleep.
Treatment for Chronic Insomnia
Since it is a more severe form of insomnia, treatments for chronic insomnia tend to be medicinal. Sleeping aids like Lunesta and Ambien are common forms of medication for insomnia currently on the market. Because chronic insomnia is commonly caused by or linked to other medical problems, you must know what effects sleeping pills can have in conjunction with medication for other conditions. Many sleeping pills have dangerous effects when mixed together with other medicines, in excessive cases even leading to death. Certain medications for depression, hypertension or arthritis can actually cause insomnia. As with any prescription medication, it is important to seek professional help from a trained physician or sleep specialist before taking any kind of treatment.