Olivia Allen (12th), Reporter

Insomnia: a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. This disorder can either be acute, which is short term or chronic, which is long-term. It can also come and go.  


Acute can last as long as one night to a few weeks. It only becomes chronic when it happens three nights a week for three months or more. It is very common, having about three million cases appear in the U.S per year. 


There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary. Primary is when your sleep problems are not linked to any health conditions or problems. Secondary is where your difficulty of sleeping is caused by a health condition such as: asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn. It could also be from substance abuse such as alcohol.


There are a few causes for primary insomnia. Stress is one of them, whether it be from a job loss or a big change, death of a loved one, divorce, or moving. Things around you like light, noise, or temperature could be a contributing factor as to why you have trouble sleeping/staying asleep. There is also the factor of your sleep schedule changing, either it be from jet lag, a new shift at work, or bad habits that have been picked up. 


The causes for secondary insomnia are more health related than primary. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are one cause for secondary insomnia. Medications for colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma could also be a factor. Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol abuse can contribute as well. Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome can also be a cause. 


Insomnia is usually self-diagnosable. If you think you could have insomnia here are some symptoms to look out for. One would be fatigue; when you’re feeling no motivation to do anything and having a lack of energy throughout the day. Another is feeling grumpy all day long from lack of sleep. A lack of concentration and problems with memory are symptoms to look out for as well.


Speaking from personal experience, I have acute insomnia. I do tend to have trouble falling asleep and sometimes I’ll stay awake until I fall asleep the next night. It is not a constant occurrence for me and most times I just need to fix my sleep schedule then I’m fine. 


Speaking of things that I do to help my insomnia, here are some ways that help if you’re having trouble.  The best way is to improve your self-care. Going to bed/waking up at a certain time is a good way to make sure you get enough sleep and not too much/too little. Avoid taking naps if you can and no caffeine before bed as it will keep you awake. Behavior therapy helps as well, where you identify and treat underlying causes to your insomnia. Medication is more of a last resort, it can be prescribed by a doctor for a short amount of time. Don’t use over the counter medicine because there could be side effects and over time will work less and less. 


I hope this was helpful and an assist to you or someone you know. Please get help if needed and be safe.