Insomnia

Can’t sleep, well you are not alone.  The prevalence of insomnia has been reported to be as high as 30% in the general population; however, fewer than 20% of individuals with insomnia ever discuss it with their doctors or proceed with treatment.

In order to understand insomnia, one must ask, what is insomnia?  Chronic insomnia can be defined in terms of the following symptoms: a) subjective complaints of poor sleep, b) difficulties in initiating (sleep onset latency is greater than 30 minutes) and/or maintaining sleep (sleep efficiency, time asleep divided by time in bed is lower than 85%), c) sleep difficulties are present three or more nights per week, d) duration of the problem is greater than 6 months, e) subjective reporting of daytime fatigue, performance impairment or mood disturbances, and f) an impairment in social or occupational functioning.

There are public misconceptions regarding insomnia.  One is that insomnia is not really a medical problem and “it will go away on its own.”  Another is that chronic insomnia can only be treated by using sleeping pills. The truth of the matter is that for some people, insomnia will not go away on its own.  Sleeping pills are not the only form of treatment available for insomnia or sleep problems.  If you are having trouble sleeping and are wondering if there is a cure for insomnia or how to cure insomnia, treatment is available.  Sleep problems and sleeplessness can be addressed. Appropriate assessment and therapeutic interventions such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have proven to be successful in the treatment of chronic insomnia.  CBT (either individually or in groups) is a psychotherapeutic approach which treats the behavioural and cognitive disruptions associated with insomnia.    Consulting with a sleep clinic can also help assess other sleep related problems such as sleep apnea, snoring, periodic limb movement, and narcolepsy.  Meeting with a psychologist can also help you on how to get to sleep and deal with the nightmares of being sleep deprived.