Insomnia Information

We’re glad that you’re here to learn more about your sleep difficulties and discover how you can break the cycle of insomnia. Many people suffer from insomnia for years before seeking treatment. They assume that their sleep problems will just go away on their own or they avoid seeking help because they don’t want to take sleeping pills.

If you have suffered from insomnia for more than a month, it is unlikely that your sleep problems will just go away. Insomnia can be treated without the use of medications.
In this section of the website, you’ll find answers to many commonly asked questions about sleep and insomnia.

What is Insomnia?

Put simply, insomnia involves sleep difficulties at night that impact how you feel during the day. If you suffer from insomnia, you may experience one of the following nighttime symptoms or some combination:

• Trouble falling asleep
• Trouble staying asleep
• Waking up too early in the morning
• Sleep that is not refreshing

As a result of poor sleep, you may experience one of more of the following daytime symptoms:

• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Difficulty concentrating

There is no magic number of hours of sleep used to establish a diagnosis of insomnia. Rather, how you feel during the day in association with difficulty sleeping at night determines whether you suffer from insomnia.

If you have not had a recent physical exam, make an appointment with your health care provider to rule out any medical conditions that could be affecting your sleep.

What causes insomnia?

My husband has never been a good sleeper and I occasionally have trouble sleeping. Are there different types of insomnia?

Insomnia is generally referred to as either acute or chronic depending upon how long you have had symptoms.

Acute (Transient)

Difficulty sleeping that lasts less than 4 weeks is referred to as acute or transient insomnia. You may only experience trouble sleeping a few nights a week or have stretches of good sleep alternating with a week or more of poor sleep.

The most common cause of acute insomnia is stress. Other causes include:

• jet lag
• hormonal fluctuations (PMS, menopausal symptoms, etc)
• environmental disturbances (pets, children, snoring partner, new sleep environment, heat, etc)
• personal challenges (job change, relationship issues, illness, etc)
• any short-term situation that affects your sleep

Acute insomnia can turn into a chronic problem. Poor sleep habits, elevated stress levels, anxiety about not getting enough sleep, behaviors that can impair sleep and expectations about sleep difficulties can set the stage for chronic insomnia.

Chronic (Long-term)

Chronic insomnia lasts beyond a month and sleep is affected multiple nights of the week. In some cases, chronic insomnia may be caused by a medical condition, another sleep disorder or medications.

In many cases, sleep difficulties are not caused by another medical condition. Rather, insomnia is the result of poor sleep habits, stress, changes in your sleep schedule, and lifestyle practices that impair sleep. Commonly, insomnia develops as a result of a short-term situation, such as difficulty sleeping due to pain from an injury (acute insomnia) that persists long after the physical injury has healed (chronic insomnia).

The anxiety, worry and frustration associated with poor sleep can create a vicious cycle of insomnia and worsen symptoms. Without help, it is very difficult to unwind the behaviors, thoughts and stress patterns that are making it difficult to get in synch with your body’s internal clock and allow your body and mind to relax for a good night’s sleep.

Can insomnia be treated?

Yes, in most cases, you can break the cycle of insomnia and become a better sleeper. By making changes in your sleep schedule, practicing relaxation exercises, reducing behaviors that impair sleep and breaking the cycle of anxious thoughts, you can become a more restful sleeper.

The proven methods used in Janet’s Pillow Talk Program are referred to as a cognitive-behavioral approach to insomnia relief. What that means is that you will learn “cognitive” techniques that will stop anxious thoughts and expectations about poor sleep from keeping you awake. And you’ll also learn “behavioral” techniques that will break habits that keep you awake and strengthen behaviors that promote sleep.

The program also includes several stress-relieving practices that will lower your stress during the day and night. We all know that stress can cause trouble sleeping and trouble sleeping can be stressful – the program will help you feel less tense and anxious about sleep.

Sleep specialists agree that cognitive-behavioral techniques should be the first step used in treating insomnia because they are safe and effective. In recent studies, the vast majority of people with insomnia who followed a methodology similar to the Pillow Talk program showed significant improvement in their sleep.

For advice on the use of over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, herbal remedies and other supplements, please contact your health care provider.

How many hours of sleep should I get?

It’s important to recognize that not all of us need 8 hours of sleep a night. While most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep, there is no magic number of hours of sleep that we should all be getting. Some people do just fine with less than seven hours of sleep.

What is most important is how you feel during the day, not the number of hours that you sleep. If you remain awake and function well during the day without symptoms of irritability, fatigue, drowsiness, and impaired performance, you no longer suffer from insomnia.
Your goals and expectations about your sleep should focus on an overall improvement in the quality of your life. Let go of the numbers and notice how much more well-rested and energized you feel throughout the day.

When should I seek medical care for my sleep difficulties?

Under certain circumstances, it is advised that you seek medical attention immediately and do not begin the program until you do so. Situations that should be addressed immediately by a physician who can help you or refer you to a sleep specialist include:

• Great difficulty staying awake during the day.
• Sleep that is disturbed by breathing difficulties including loud snoring with long pauses, chest pain, heartburn, leg twitches, excessive pain, or other physical conditions.
• Sleep difficulty is accompanied by depression and/or problems with alcohol, sleeping medications or addictive drugs.