Sleep is critically important for regulating many of our body functions

Aurora BayCare sleep specialists diagnose and treat insomnia. We can help you develop a holistic approach to insomnia so you can get the most out of your every waking hour.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. It’s symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Feeling tired upon waking

Types of Insomnia

There are two kinds of insomnia—primary and secondary. With primary insomnia, your sleep problem is not directly related to another health issue.  With secondary insomnia, there is another health problem such as depression, asthma, heartburn, arthritis, pain, or a medication interfering with your ability to sleep.

Insomnia is also acute or chronic. The clinical definition of chronic insomnia is difficulty sleeping for three nights or more a week over the course of a month or more. Acute insomnia is episodic—it can last from one night to three weeks but is not regularly occurring.

Sleep is critically important for regulating many of our body functions.  Adequate sleep helps us focus and concentrate, maintain a healthier weight, cope with stress, maintain cardiovascular health, and maintain our immune systems.

Plus, without adequate rest, you may be at greater risk for health complications such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke, immune system problems, and accidents due to an inability to concentrate or even to remain awake while going about your daily routine.

To determine the best treatment, we need to determine the cause of your insomnia or other sleeping disorder. Acute insomnia may not require treatment. Depending on how insomnia affects your day, a short-term solution involving medication may be most appropriate. Underlying health concerns contributing to secondary insomnia should be addressed to the extent possible. Chronic insomnia may be treated with behavioral changes, therapy, medication, and good sleep habits.

Sleep Habits to Ward Off Insomnia

  • Avoid caffeine 6 – 8 hours before bedtime.  Caffeine is a stimulant that disrupts sleep. Tea, coffee, chocolate, some medications and soda contain caffeine.
  • Avoid tobacco products.  Nicotine, a stimulant in tobacco, disrupts sleep.
  • Limit alcohol intake; consume with a meal and don’t drink within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime. You may fall asleep faster, but the quality of sleep is disrupted.
  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Do not eat a full meal shortly before bedtime.  A small snack at night, however, is okay.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and at a moderate temperature. Use blackout curtains, white noise machines or earplugs if needed.
  • Rise around the same time every day. This helps adjust your "body clock" to know when to be awake and alert and helps you to fall asleep at the appropriate time.
  • Set your alarm and then don’t watch the clock all night.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, develop a routine to help you unwind.  Reading, taking a warm bath or practicing deep breathing exercises may help to quiet your mind.
  • Avoid spending time in front of the computer, smartphone, or tablet prior to bedtime.  The bright light from the screen can disrupt your “body clock” making it difficult to fall asleep when you need to. 
  • Work with a health care professional who can instruct you in relaxation exercises, biofeedback, hypnosis and other techniques for managing stress.
  • Do not spend too much time in bed (typically more than 8 to 9 hours).
  • Designate "worry time" for daytime hours. Set aside time to write down your problems and possible solutions or action plans. This can allow you to relax and fall asleep more easily at bedtime.
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