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What is Insomnia and what causes it?

You might have heard about insomnia. The term “insomnia”, which is often used to describe those who are always awake, is widely used. You or a loved one who has experienced clinical insomnia will know that it is much more than a few sleepless nights. Insomnia can be a severe or mild condition.

Criteria for Insomnia
Globally, it is estimated that one third of people have poor sleep. Insomnia can be diagnosed if sleep problems meet certain criteria.

The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing insomnia is as follows:


  • A person has trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep or experiencing early morning awakenings that lead to poor sleep.
  • Sleep disturbances have negatively affected their performance at work, school, in the home, and in other areas of their lives.
  • The person must have insomnia symptoms and sleep at least three nights a week, for a minimum of three months.

Everyone has difficulty sleeping from time to time. Stress, a poor mattress, noisy neighbors or other factors can cause sleep problems. Sleep disorders are likely to be at play when sleep problems become chronic, persistent and detrimental.

Treating Insomnia
A doctor can prescribe several treatment options for insomnia once it has been diagnosed. CBT-I is a great behavioral therapy for insomniacs to help them overcome their sleep problems and reduce stress.

In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe sleep medication to help with healthy sleep patterns, and reduce anxiety.

Patients with insomnia will be given practical tips by doctors to help prevent insomnia. These tips include:

  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Keep a healthy life style.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and stimulants.
  • Avoid eating close to bedtime.
  • Keep a regular sleep and waking schedule.
  • Prevent screen time between 30 minutes and an hour before bedtime.
  • More!

These simple tricks and tips may not cure insomnia overnight, however they can help change behaviors that together can cause insomnia in some people.

A healthy and happy life is impossible without sleep. Unfortunately, sleep problems are very common. Sleep disorders such as insomnia have been well researched and doctors are able to help patients overcome this condition.

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