Insomnia is a sleep disorder that prevents you from being able to sleep well at night. Some people have difficulty falling asleep at night. Others may unintentionally wake up too early in the morning. Some may struggle to stay asleep, waking frequently throughout the night.
Insomnia is the most common sleep problem. For most people, it lasts only a few days and goes away without treatment. Roughly one-third of adults get occasional, temporary insomnia. Long-term, chronic insomnia affects less than 10 percent of adults. For these people, insomnia may require treatment.
Kids with insomnia may feel tired and grumpy all day and may have trouble concentrating on tasks at school or at home. Other insomnia symptoms include:
- Low energy
- Lack of motivation
- Attention, concentration or memory problems
- Poor performance at school or work
- Extreme mood changes
- Daytime sleepiness
- Trouble making errors at school or while driving
- Tension, headaches or stomach aches
- Frustration or worry about your sleep
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. Some insomnia cases are caused by external factors such as medical problems, mental health problems, medications or substances.
Insomnia in Children
In children, insomnia might initially seem like a behavioral problem. Parents may want to try the following for 2 weeks and if their child is still having problems falling asleep or staying asleep, then talk with their pediatrician or sleep specialist.
Suggestions: Develop a good bedtime routine, with all electronics with screens turned off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Parents should have children go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for 2 weeks, including weekends.
Many children will not go to bed unless a consistent bedtime is enforced. Some children delay bedtime by bargaining for stories or by getting up from bed frequently to drink water or use the bathroom. Parents need to assert that they decide when it is time for bed and be firm when children try delay tactics.
After staying up past their bedtime, children may misbehave or act out. Children react differently to sleep loss than adults. Rather than acting sleepy and sluggish during the daytime, children with insomnia tend to be hyperactive.
If your child is still having problems sleeping after fixing the bedtime routine and sleeping on a more regular schedule, talk with your sleep specialist about medical causes for insomnia such as restless legs syndrome or obstructive sleep apnea.
Insomnia in older adolescents or adults:
Improving sleep hygiene by making changes in bedtime habits and behaviors may eliminate insomnia in older children and adults. If the insomnia does not improve, then seek help from your family doctor or a sleep medicine specialist. Doctors can provide cognitive behavioral therapy to help you improve your sleep habits and eliminate thought patterns that prevent you from sleeping. Some medications also can treat insomnia in adults. These sleeping pills should be used only with the supervision of a doctor.
Watch this entertaining video from Healthmedia to learn more about insomnia: