One sheep. Two sheep. Three sheep. At one point or another in our lives, we have resulted to picturing imaginary sheep jumping across our dreams as we lie in bed, struggling to fall asleep. This plaguing sensation of being unable to get rest can be a torturous feeling.  This feeling you may be experiencing is commonly known as insomnia and it is a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to sleep.

Insomnia can be categorized into two types, primary insomnia and chronic insomnia.

  • Primary insomnia: Trouble sleeping that is not the result of having a heart condition or other medical problem
  • Chronic insomnia: Trouble sleeping that is the result of another condition (depression, heartburn, arthritis, cancer, etc)

In addition, insomnia can be classified based on duration (how long it lasts) and frequency (how often it occurs).

How do I know if I have Insomnia?

You may be struggling with insomnia if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • having difficulty falling asleep when tired
  • waking up in the middle of the night and have difficulty or are unable to fall back asleep
  • feeling tired after waking up, despite having a full nights sleep
  • waking up too early

Causes of Insomnia

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • sudden life changes (new home, new job, job loss, death, birth, divorce)
  • noises, lights, or temperature during sleep
  • certain medications (some antidepressants, heart medication, and medication containing caffeine)
  • medical conditions (arthritis, cancer, lung disease, etc.)
  • stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine

What to do if you have Insomnia

  • try to avoid taking naps
  • try to avoid stimulants like phones, computers, television before bedtime
  • reduce intake of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
  • get on a regular sleep schedule
  • sleep in a dark, quiet, temperature controlled room
  • take a sleep aid like melatonin or valerian

If you or someone you know might have insomnia, hopefully, this article was helpful in providing more information about what insomnia is and what can be done about it!