A flurry of articles recently announced the discovery of seven new risk genes for insomnia. In an era when new genes are being identified for everything from infertility to schizophrenia, you might regard this discovery as simply the soup du jour.
Not me. Growing up when trouble sleeping was attributed to psychological factors, coffee, and alcohol, I was elated by this news. We stand to gain so much from knowing the genetic underpinnings of insomnia.
Have you had insomnia all your life? Have your parents said you were a poor sleeper even as a baby?
Trouble sleeping that starts early in life is called idiopathic insomnia. If insomnia is still the black box of sleep disorders, then idiopathic insomnia is the little black box inside the black box.
Here’s what is known about the disorder and options for management.
Let’s say you go to the doctor hoping to get a prescription for sleeping pills to relieve your insomnia. You’ve been through cognitive behavioral therapy and it has helped. But there are nights when you’re wound up so tightly that nothing—push-ups, meditation, a hot bath—will calm you down enough so you can get a decent night’s sleep. What then?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently released a clinical practice guideline for the medical treatment of chronic insomnia in adults. Here’s what the academy now recommends.
You may know you’ve got insomnia. But could you prove it?
Researchers use pencil-and-paper tests to assess different aspects of sleep: sleep quality, insomnia severity, sleep reactivity, and sleep-related beliefs. If you’re unfamiliar with these questionnaires, you may find it interesting to look at them and see how you score.
Occasionally I hear from long-term users of sleeping pills who suspect the pills are doing more harm than good. Their sleep is not very satisfying and they don’t feel rested during the day.
Here’s why you might want to explore the idea of discontinuing sleeping pills and what to expect if you decide to do it.
I went to my family physician for a routine physical last week. I hadn’t had one in a while, so I decided to get the exam and requisitions for the usual blood work.
This doctor is one whose opinions I respect. But I never hesitate to speak up when information I have leads me to question those opinions. One topic we’ve had discussions about is insomnia and sleeping pills.
When people write in with lots of questions about insomnia, I’ll often recommend seeing a sleep specialist or a sleep therapist who can provide cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
But finding sleep specialists and sleep therapists can be tricky. Here’s why you might want to consult one and how to locate the right provider.
People come here looking for solutions to sleep problems. Some read about sleep restriction, a drug-free insomnia treatment, and decide to try it on their own. It’s not rocket science: insomnia sufferers who follow the guidelines often improve their sleep. It’s empowering to succeed.
But self-treatment is not the right approach for everyone. Sometimes insomnia is complicated by another disorder, or what looks like insomnia is actually something else. In both cases, the best thing to do is to have yourself evaluated by a sleep specialist ASAP.