What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a condition characterised by difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep, affecting some individuals in both aspects.
Although occasional sleeplessness is normal, consulting a physician is advisable if you consistently struggle with sleep problems.
Our online doctors will converse with you about your symptoms, pinpoint the root cause of your insomnia, and suggest the most suitable treatment.
Insomnia is commonly associated with difficulty sleeping, but its symptoms can be multi-faceted. The following indications could potentially signal the onset of insomnia:
- Difficulty in initiating sleep
- Frequent awakenings with difficulty in resuming sleep
- Early waking well before the desired time
- Absence of rejuvenation upon waking
- Daytime irritability
- Impaired concentration
These symptoms can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). If left untreated, both types of symptoms can lead to:
- Disagreements with family or friends
- Subpar work performance
- Absence of an active social life
- Persistent negative mood
Your fatigue can also influence those around you. For instance, the likelihood of accidents while driving rises. Hence, it's crucial to promptly consult a doctor regarding your symptoms if you cannot attain the recommended 7-9 hours of nightly sleep.
Many different factors may be contributing to your sleep difficulties. Pinpointing the root cause is crucial in determining the most beneficial remedy for your situation. Addressing the underlying issue is frequently the most effective approach to resolving insomnia.
Here are some potential causes to consider when attempting to diagnose your sleep troubles:
Conditions related to mental health often contribute to both short and long-term insomnia. The inability to sleep is merely one symptom of these issues, making it imperative to seek assistance if you are experiencing them.
The onset of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease can be preceded by insomnia in rare cases.
Though insomnia stands as a sleep disorder on its own, it can, at times, be instigated by other sleep-related issues, including:
- Snoring – This may indicate a significant sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
- Other sleep disorders like nightmares, sleepwalking, or narcolepsy.
- An inadequate sleep environment – excessive light or noise, room temperature being too high or low, using electronic devices in bed, having pets in your room, or sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress can all hinder sleep.
Certain factors can cause insomnia you wouldn't expect to be related to sleep, such as:
- Drinking alcohol
- Overeating before going to bed
- Drinking caffeine close to bedtime
- Exercising too close to bedtime
Occasionally, a physical health issue can influence your capacity to sleep effectively.
- Heart conditions can cause difficulties in breathing while lying down.
- Respiratory issues and allergies like asthma might intensify during the night.
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Joint discomfort, such as arthritis or a back injury.
When travelling for work overseas, your sleeping pattern may be disrupted due to frequent changes in time zones. Similarly, irregular shift patterns can also lead to insomnia. It's essential to be aware of these potential issues and take steps to mitigate them.
Diagnosis of Insomnia
Our doctors can assist in diagnosing your sleep problems by asking a series of questions, as there is no definitive test for insomnia.
When consulting with our doctors, you must be open about any health concerns or issues you may be experiencing. This may include discussing your sleeping patterns and answering questions about your lifestyle. All information shared with our doctors is confidential, and no consultation recordings are on file. Further inquiries may be made during the consultation, such as:
- Your typical bedtime
- Your usual wake-up time (acknowledging that for numerous individuals with insomnia, this might differ from the time you awaken)
- Potential disturbances to sleep, like street noise, excessive light, overly warm or cold room conditions
- Current levels of stress or anxiety
- Smoking habits
- Alcohol consumption (and the quantity, if applicable)
- Frequency and timing of physical activity
- Any ongoing medication use
You might be asked to keep a sleep diary for a week or two to help our doctors confirm your diagnosis. This would involve recording:
- Your bedtime
- Approximate time you drift off to sleep
- Wake-up time
- Frequency of nighttime awakenings
Insomnia is believed to be more common among older people, but it can affect anyone at any age.
Treatment of Insomnia
Insomnia can have various causes, and determining the root cause is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment plan doctors recommend. Lifestyle modifications may be suggested to alleviate symptoms, while medication or specialist referrals may also be prescribed as necessary.
Our doctors can:
- Address mental health conditions using methods like CBT or medication.
- Offer guidance to address factors disrupting your sleep, like recommending an eye mask for light blockage or upgrading your mattress for better comfort.
- Manage sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, sleepwalking, nightmares, or narcolepsy.
- Propose adjustments to your lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and avoiding late-night caffeine.
- Handle physical health issues such as joint pain, allergies, or heart/respiratory problems, which may involve medication or referral to specialised treatment.
Prescription for Insomnia
Our doctors are always there to help you and will recommend the best treatment for you, which is most suitable for your condition.
Please note our doctors cannot prescribe sleeping tablets like zopiclone.
Insomnia during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the body undergoes many changes, making it difficult to achieve a good night's sleep. Insomnia in this period can be attributed to:
- Fluctuations in hormones, particularly in the initial trimester.
- Nighttime awakenings due to morning sickness or bathroom trips.
- Challenges in finding a comfortable position significantly as your baby's size increases.
- Apprehension regarding childbirth, your baby's well-being, and the upcoming role of parenthood.
If you are experiencing symptoms, our doctors are available to assist you in managing them. They can provide safe and effective treatment options for your well-being.