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Understanding Chronic Insomnia: Symptoms & Treatment

Scott Loeb DO
Medically reviewed by Dr. Loeb
Scott Loeb DO
Medically reviewed by Dr. Loeb

Sleep disturbance can occur for various reasons. Sometimes, it is a short-term disruption of the body’s normal activities. But if your sleep is disturbed for a long period, more than three months, then it already speaks of a chronic stage of insomnia. Also, chronic insomnia refers to sleep disturbances more than three times a week. To cure chronic insomnia, you will need to resort to:

  • medication;
  • psychotherapeutic treatment;
  • lifestyle changes.

If you feel that you live in a vicious circle:

  • evening activity;
  • difficulty falling asleep;
  • shallow intermittent sleep;
  • deepening sleep in the morning;
  • the need to rise when you want to sleep;
  • daytime sleepiness co, reduced speed of thinking and concentration. 

Then, we can safely say you have all the signs of chronic insomnia. Sleep is very important. Difficulty falling asleep, awakenings at night, daytime sleepiness, and disorders make life painful. So read our article further to know all the details of chronic insomnia.

What is Chronic Insomnia?

Chronic insomnia is a pathological condition with:

  • a daytime sleep disorder;
  • severe daytime sleepiness. 

It is difficult for a person to fall asleep. His sleep is shallow and intermittent. He often wakes up in the middle of the night and cannot fall asleep again. This problem is faced by 30% of people.

Chronic insomnia negatively affects the work of the entire body:

  • the immune system is disturbed;
  • increases the risk of digestive diseases;
  • develop neurological disorders and psycho-emotional disorders;
  • memory deteriorates, attention concentration decreases;
  • cardiovascular diseases develop;
  • insomnia can lead to infertility, menstrual disorders, diabetes mellitus, and thyroid dysfunction.

People with chronic insomnia are often overweight. This is due to impaired fat metabolism and metabolic disorders.

The risk of developing severe insomnia for years is higher in certain categories of patients:

  • Women. Hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle increase the likelihood of anxiety states. They interfere with normal sleep. Disorders during menopause also influence these symptoms.
  • Individuals over 60 years of age. Age-related changes in sleep patterns and an increasing need for rest are in this field. Associated pathologies and pain syndromes of diverse pathogenesis can lead to chronic insomnia.
  • Individuals are susceptible to psychoemotional disorders. Many illnesses can lead to problems falling asleep. It includes:

Chronic insomnia with very early awakening (4-5 a.m.) and inability to fall asleep again is one of the main signs of depressive disorder.

  • Patients who regularly experience stress. Severe shocks, such as serious illness or death of a loved one and other life troubles, can provoke temporary or chronic insomnia. Material difficulties and increased intellectual or physical load do not allow the body to rest fully. So, they are risk factors for sleep disorders.
  • Persons who work at night or on a floating schedule. Unregulated working hours with constant overwork keep a person in a stressful state for a long time. Chronic stress, sooner or later, leads to sleep problems.

Difference between chronic and acute insomnia

Chronic insomnia is a long-term sleep disorder that persists for at least three nights a week for three months or more. It often results from underlying factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, or medical conditions. Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It leads to daytime fatigue, irritability, and reduced quality of life. Managing insomnia symptoms typically involves:

Acute insomnia is short-lived, lasting for a few nights to a few weeks, and is often triggered by specific events like stress, jet lag, or illness. It results in temporary sleep disturbances. It leads to difficulty sleeping and similar daytime symptoms as chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia generally resolves on its own when the underlying cause is addressed. Strategies to manage it may include:

  • relaxation techniques;
  • improved sleep hygiene;
  • short-term use of over-the-counter sleep aids.

the woman is lying on the sofa and cannot fall asleep

Symptoms of Insomnia

It is a deviation in the short term. But if the pathology persists for several months, we are discussing the development of such a disease as chronic insomnia. The deviation includes sleep disorders that occur more than three times a week. To suspect the development of chronic insomnia in yourself or a loved one, you can detect one or more of the following signs:

  • Waking up without an alarm clock (as a result, the time of night rest is greatly reduced, the person rests less than 6 hours);
  • it takes at least 30 minutes to fall asleep;
  • frequent awakening at night (the total duration of the waking period is half an hour or more);
  • severe sleepiness and fatigue during the day.

Over time, prolonged sleep disturbances lead to constant headaches. A person becomes irritable and emotionally unstable. In the absence of treatment, apathy and depression develop. The patient does not want to engage in work or household chores and begins to be indifferent to his appearance and health. Read below in more detail about all the insomnia symptoms.

Sleep disturbances

People with insomnia commonly experience:

  • difficulties falling asleep;
  • frequent awakenings during the night;
  • early morning awakenings and restlessness. 

These disturbances reduce sleep duration and contribute to daytime fatigue. Irritability and impaired concentration may also occur. 

Daytime Dizziness

It is a common consequence of sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. It refers to excessive tiredness and drowsiness experienced during the waking hours. Dizziness can significantly:

  • impair cognitive function;
  • decrease alertness;
  • negatively impact daily activities. 

Identifying and addressing its underlying causes are essential for improving overall well-being. It also ensures better daytime productivity and quality of life.

Reduced Emotional Well-being

It refers to a state of diminished mental and emotional health. It can manifest as increased stress, anxiety, depression, or a general sense of emotional imbalance. Various factors can reduce emotional well-being. It includes life events, chronic stress, and medical conditions. Addressing these factors is essential to restoring emotional balance and enhancing mental health to cure insomnia. You can do it through counseling, therapy, lifestyle changes, or medical intervention.

Nighttime and  Early Morning Awakenings

These are sleep disturbances commonly associated with insomnia. Nighttime awakenings refer to waking up multiple times during the night, disrupting the sleep cycle. Early morning awakenings involve waking up well before the desired wake-up time and often feeling unable to return to sleep. These disturbances reduce sleep duration. It contributes to daytime fatigue and impacts one’s quality of life. Identifying their underlying causes and addressing them is crucial for improving sleep quality.

there are pills, a glass of water, and an alarm clock on the bedside table

How to Cure Insomnia?

Treatment of insomnia is mostly done on an outpatient basis. Only for diagnosis may require a stay in the hospital.

Insomnia treatment methods are chosen strictly personalized. They also depend on what caused this condition. The specialist teaches the patient what to do if insomnia appears and how to fall asleep during this period. It is important to make a daily routine and follow the plan. It is worth giving up gadgets before bedtime, walking outside, having a light dinner, and excluding alcohol. One should give up prolonged use of a computer or laptop for online gaming. Two disorders, like chronic insomnia and gaming addiction, often go side by side.

It is helpful to learn relaxation or meditation techniques to cope with anxiety and bad thoughts.  Treatment of insomnia without effect from simple rules on sleep hygiene continues with medications. These are:

  • benzodiazepines, prescribed for a short period;
  • sleeping pills of non-benzodiazepine series. 

They help fall asleep but do not eliminate the causes of insomnia. This was an overall summary, and you can read more about how to cure insomnia.

Establish a Routine

Creating a daily routine is vital in managing chronic insomnia. A consistent sleep schedule with fixed bedtime and wake-up times regulates the body’s internal clock. Wind-down activities, such as reading or relaxation techniques, prepare the mind for sleep. Limiting screen time before bed and controlling light and noise in the sleep environment contribute to better sleep. Regular exercise, mindful stress management, and a balanced diet aid sleep. Track progress through a sleep diary, and consult a healthcare professional if insomnia persists.

Reduce Energy Stimulators

To promote quality sleep and get rid of chronic insomnia, limit energy stimulators in the evening. Avoid caffeine and nicotine several hours before bedtime, as these substances can disrupt sleep. Additionally, minimize strenuous exercise close to bedtime, as it can be stimulating. Diminish exposure to bright screens can interfere with melatonin production.  You can eliminate phones and computers at least an hour before sleep, as the blue light is emitted. Reducing these energy stimulators can improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest.

Create a Restful Environment

To foster better sleep, curate a serene sleep environment. Start with a comfortable mattress and pillows. Ensure the room is dark with blackout curtains and minimize noise disruptions with earplugs or white noise machines. Maintain a cool and well-ventilated room. Remove electronic devices and avoid heavy meals or caffeine before bedtime to cure insomnia symptoms. Establish a calming bedtime routine and keep a consistent sleep schedule. These steps promote a tranquil atmosphere conducive to restful sleep.

Air Out the Room

Ensuring proper ventilation in your bedroom can enhance sleep quality. Open windows or use a fan to bring in fresh air, maintaining a comfortable room temperature. Adequate ventilation helps regulate humidity levels, preventing discomfort during the night. A well-ventilated room promotes better air quality. It creates a more conducive environment for restful sleep.

Conclusion

Chronic insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects millions. It impacts physical and emotional well-being. Understanding its causes and symptoms is crucial for those seeking relief. While lifestyle changes and behavioral interventions can be effective, some require specialized care. At Lone Star Neurology, we’re dedicated to diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. So we offer solutions tailored to your needs. Don’t let chronic insomnia disrupt your life. Contact us for expert guidance and a path to restorative sleep. Your journey to a well-rested life begins with us.

FAQ

How do I know if I have insomnia?

You may have insomnia if you consistently have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early and feeling daytime fatigue or irritability. A medical evaluation can confirm the diagnosis.

What are the main causes of chronic insomnia?

Various factors, including stress, anxiety, depression, medical conditions, medications, and poor sleep habits can trigger chronic insomnia.

Can chronic insomnia lead to other health problems?

Yes, chronic insomnia can lead to various health issues, including increased risk of mood disorders, impaired cognitive function, cardiovascular problems, and weakened immune system function.

Can lifestyle changes help chronic insomnia?

Yes, it can alleviate chronic insomnia. If problems persist, consult a healthcare professional for guidance and treatment.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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