Sleep Onset Insomnia

What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

Insomnia is typically divided into three types: temporary, acute, and chronic. The causes and symptoms of this type of sleep disturbance are varied, owing to challenges facing doctors in trying to render diagnoses. To complicate it further, insomnia can be fleeting—a one-night experience—or it can be a regular occurrence and even the norm—a chronic condition.

A True Nightmare: Sheep Counting Wolves.

Besides the types of insomnia, Medicine has also categorized 4 patterns of insomnia, one of which is sleep onset insomnia.

Description and Symptoms

Sleep onset insomnia is associated with the inability to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, or at the point of normal “sleep onset.” Because this is a pattern of insomnia it can be temporary, acute, or chronic. Symptoms also vary greatly, again, depending upon the frequency of the pattern. For example, common symptoms indicating insomnia include feeling tired during waking hours, inability to concentrate, irritability. If sleep onset insomnia is temporary, symptoms may be mild. You’ll definitely suffer sleep deprivation, but symptoms will eventually subside once you’ve returned to normal sleep patterns.

For chronic insomniacs, though, the symptoms associated with the sleep onset pattern can be severely debilitating to the point of shifting behavior and psychological triggers that manage sleep and other natural rhythms. Most sufferers fall asleep eventually, but the sleep onset latency period can be exaggerated and slash your sleep time.

Symptoms of sleep onset insomnia can be mild to severe forms of the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Constantly tired
  • Worn-out feeling
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Increased clumsiness
  • Feeling depressed
  • Anxious

Causes of Onset Insomnia

Common causes of temporary onset insomnia include changes in lifestyle, temporary stressors, behavioral patterns such as habitually drinking coffee or caffeinated soda before going to bed, or lack of exercise. Anxiety sufferers commonly report disturbances in onset sleep latency—the period of time in which we fall asleep at night becomes longer, which in and of itself builds even more anxiety.

Treatments for Onset Insomnia

Like other forms of insomnia, sleep onset insomnia treatments can include one or a combination of the following:

  • Pharmacological sleep aids, including benzodiazepines (Restoril) and non-benzodiazepines such as Ambien or Lunesta—all powerful prescription drugs.
  • Over the counter sleep aids
  • Behavioral therapy, principally cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • All natural, homeopathic and alternative therapies, including teas, herbal therapies, and acupuncture.

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