Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by a difficulty in falling asleep or inconsistent sleep throughout the night resulting in too little or poor-quality sleep and a feeling of exhaustion when you wake up.
Insomnia can be acute or chronic. Acute insomnia lasts from one night to a few weeks while with chronic insomnia, the sleep disturbances occur at least three nights per week, for more than a month.
Acute or short term insomnia does not require any treatment and can be often prevented or cured by practicing proper sleep habits. However, if insomnia affects your functional abilities, your physician may prescribe sleep inducing medication, for a limited period of time.
To treat chronic insomnia, your doctor will first treat any underlying medical health problems that are interfering with your sleep. If insomnia continues, behavioural therapy may be recommended to modify behaviours, which can worsen insomnia, and also learn new behaviours to promote good sleep. Other behavioural techniques such as relaxation therapy sleep restriction therapy and reconditioning may also be helpful in improving your sleep.
Relaxation therapy: This helps reduce or eliminate night-time stress, body tension and anxiety. The goal is to calm the mind so you are able to fall asleep.
Sleep restriction therapy: This is a type of behavioural treatment in which your sleep efficiency is improved by initially limiting your sleep time.
Reconditioning: This approach helps your body to associate bed and bedtime with sleep. The person is usually advised to use bed only for sleep and sex. You are taught to go to bed only when sleepy. During the reconditioning process you should avoid short naps and go to bed at the same time every night. If unable to sleep, leave your bedroom and do something else until you feel sleepy.