We don’t have a current Insomnia study enrolling, but we hope to soon.
Please complete the form below, to be included in our Insomnia Database, you’ll get contacted when we start to screen for our next Insomnia study.
Insomnia is trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night.
Episodes may come and go (episodic), last up to 3 weeks (short-term), or be long-lasting (chronic).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Sleep habits we learned as children may affect our sleep behaviors as adults. When we repeat these behaviors over many years, they become habits.
Poor sleep or lifestyle habits that may cause insomnia or make it worse:
- Going to bed at different times each night
- Daytime napping
- Poor sleeping environment, such as too much noise or light
- Spending too much time in bed while awake
- Working evening or night shifts
- Not getting enough exercise
- Using the television, computer, or smartphone in bed
The use of some medications and drugs may also affect sleep:
- Alcohol or other drugs
- Heavy smoking
- Too much caffeine, especially late in the day
- Getting used to certain types of sleep medications
- Some cold medications and diet pills
- Other medicines, herbs, or supplements prescribed by a health care provider or bought on your own
Physical, social, and mental health issues can affect sleep patterns, including:
- Anxiety disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease
- Feeling sad or depressed. Often, insomnia is the symptom that causes people with depression to seek medical help.
- Physical pain or discomfort
- Stress, whether it is short-term or long-term. For some people, the stress caused by the insomnia makes it even harder to fall asleep.
With age, sleep patterns tend to change. Many people find that aging causes them to have a harder time falling asleep, and that they wake up more often.
The most common complaints or symptoms in people with insomnia are:
- Trouble falling asleep on most nights
- Feeling tired during the day or falling asleep during the day
- Not feeling refreshed when you wake up
- Waking up several times during sleep
People who have insomnia sometimes keep thinking about getting enough sleep. The more they try to sleep, the more frustrated and upset they get, and the harder sleep becomes.
A lack of restful sleep can affect your ability to do your daily activities because you are tired or have trouble concentrating.
Signs and tests
Your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your current medications, drug use, and medical history. Usually, these are the only methods needed to diagnose insomnia.
It is important to remember that not getting 8 hours of sleep every night does not mean you are putting your health at risk. Different people have different sleep needs. Some people do fine on 6 hours of sleep a night. Others only do well if they get 10 to 11 hours of sleep.
Treatment often begins by reviewing any drugs or medical conditions that may be causing your insomnia or making it worse.
Thinking about any lifestyle and sleep habits that may be affecting your sleep is an important next step. This is called sleep hygiene. Making some changes in your sleep habits may improve or solve your insomnia.
Using medicine to treat insomnia can sometimes be useful, but there can be risks.
- Antihistamines (the main ingredient in over-the-counter sleeping pills) may cause memory problems over time, especially in the elderly.
- Only use sedatives under the close care of a doctor, because they can cause tolerance and sometimes dependence. Stopping these medications suddenly can cause rebound insomnia and withdrawal.
- Lower doses of certain antidepressant medicines may help. These medicines do not carry the same problems with tolerance and dependence as sedatives.
It may help to see a psychiatrist or other mental health provider to test for a mood or anxiety disorder that can cause insomnia.
- They may use talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to help you gain control over anxiety or depression.
- A psychiatrist may also prescribe antidepressants or another medicine to help your sleeping problem and any mood or anxiety disorder you might have.
Most people are able to sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene. See a doctor if you have insomnia that does not improve.