Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects around 35% of adults. It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. The former is known as sleep-onset insomnia, whereas the latter is referred to as sleep-maintenance insomnia.

Naturally, sleep deprivation leads to serious health complications and an increased risk of accidents involving vehicles and machinery. What’s more, the inability to sleep often increases feelings of loneliness, depression and stress.

So to help reassure you that a prescription can be an answer to poor sleeping habits, we’ve explained the condition – as well as your options – below.

What is insomnia?

Woman unable to sleep

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia is defined by three cases of poor sleep a week for a duration of at least three months. 

In the case of difficulties falling asleep, the sufferer will usually have a hard time relaxing while in bed or their circadian rhythm may be off-balance due to an irregular work schedule.

As for sufferers who are unable to stay asleep after initially nodding off, their condition is more likely to be caused by age or disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. However, it is likely to happen to those who consume alcohol, caffeine or tobacco before bed.

It is possible to have mixed insomnia, where you swap between the two categories. And in these instances, those afflicted are more likely to experience adverse symptoms.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

If you’ve been struggling from a lack of sleep but are unsure whether or not that qualifies you as an insomniac, the signs typically include:

  • Frequent waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling well-rested
  • Tiredness during the daytime
  • Depression or anxiety [LINK: How To Recognize The Signs Of Depression]
  • Difficulty in paying attention
  • Memory problems
  • Stressed about your inability to sleep

While these may seem like obvious signs of sleep deprivation, many Americans put them down to not being a naturally ‘good sleeper’. In many cases, this has led the condition to worsen and lower their quality of life.

What causes sleep problems?

The most common cause of insomnia is your lifestyle. If you work nights or keep the brain stimulated into the early hours of the morning, your circadian rhythm is likely to keep you awake when you’re trying to rest. The same is true if you use your bed for activities besides sleep, as this creates mental associations with bed outside of sleeping.

phone in bed at night

Other causes include:

Stress – Stress provokes a strong reaction in the body that challenges your ability to sleep. This reaction can contribute to ‘hyperarousal’, a symptom of PTSD when your body triggers fight-or-flight symptoms and places you on high alert.

Medical condition – Any condition that causes pain can disrupt sleep, as can anxiety due to its ability to create negative thought patterns. Type II diabetes is often part of an underlying cause of insomnia. Pain from peripheral neuropathy, more frequent need for hydration and urination, and rapid blood sugar changes can interrupt sleep.

Age – Due to a higher level of chronic health conditions, social isolation and increased use of multiple prescription drugs, older people have less sleep efficiency. They spend less time in deep or REM sleep, which makes it easier for their sleep to be disturbed.

Pregnancy – Naturally, the discomfort associated with pregnancy makes it harder for you to rest in bed. Similarly, the growth of the uterus places pressure on the lungs and can make it more difficult to breathe, increasing the risk of sleep apnea. The added pressure is also felt in the bladder, making it more likely that you’ll need to urinate at night.

What medication options are available for insomnia?

There are a wide range of treatments available to you if you’re suffering from insomnia. Some will focus entirely on sleep-onset insomnia while others will focus on sleep-maintenance insomnia. For the former, you may be prescribed ramelteon (Rozerem), and for the latter, you may be offered trazodone (Desyrel).

A large number of these prescriptions are only recommended for short-term use as they can be habit-forming. That being said, there are a handful that are considered ‘safe’ for long-term use, such as zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien) – both of which help with sleep-onset insomnia and sleep-maintenance insomnia.

It’s worth bearing in mind that just because one drug doesn’t immediately relieve your symptoms, another won’t. The effects of medication can vary from person to person, so it’s always worth consulting with your doctor before you stop taking your dose or ask to change.

Are there any other treatments for insomnia?

There’s obviously no silver bullet to curing insomnia. However, making small changes to your sleep pattern may be able to reduce the severity of your symptoms. For example, going to bed at the same time every night helps you to feel more restful when trying to sleep. Likewise, waking up at the same time helps to keep you asleep for longer periods of time.

You’ll also increase your feeling of tiredness by avoiding naps late in the day and not using your phone too close to bedtime. The same is true of eating too late before bed – this can cause indigestion and discomfort so should be avoided.

Outside of that, reserve your bedroom for sleep as much as is reasonably possible. If you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, leave the room and remain somewhere else until you start to feel tired again.

Searching for affordable insomnia medication?

Sleep is essential. Without it, we are at risk of developing debilitating health conditions and isolating ourselves from others. It’s for this reason that Medix provides a range of medications to help you get the good night’s sleep you need. 

For more information, get in touch on 1-866-500-6633 (toll-free number), +44 1438 500111 (international number), or request a callback today. Always seek advice from your doctor.