Each night millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. For some this is only a brief problem. For others, insomnia can become an ongoing struggle:
- 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia.
- 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months.
- 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.
Chronic insomnia can have a negative impact on your health. It can increase your risk of depression and high blood pressure. Insomnia also can lower your quality of life. Common symptoms of insomnia include:
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Poor memory
- Mood disturbance
- Daytime sleepiness
- Low motivation or energy
- Increased errors or accidents
The first step to reduce symptoms of insomnia is to develop healthy sleep habits.
The best treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). It helps you change actions or thoughts that hurt your ability to sleep well. The positive effects of CBT-I can be long-lasting. CBT-I is delivered by a behavioral sleep medicine provider. Treatment can occur during a series of individual or group therapy sessions. Validated online CBT-I programs also are available.
Sleep medications are a short-term treatment option for some people who have insomnia. Like all medications, these drugs can cause a variety of side effects. You should take a sleeping pill only when supervised by a medical provider.
WARNING: Complex sleep behaviors such as sleepwalking or sleep driving can occur when you take a sleeping pill. Read this Consumer Update from the FDA to learn about these safety risks.
Treating an underlying medical or mental health problem also can help. Insomnia often occurs together with anxiety, depression or chronic pain. Changing medications also may improve your sleep.<