Getting a good night's rest is vital for your overall health. The average adult needs seven or more hours of sleep each night, so if you get less than that, you are most likely not functioning at your best. If you are not getting enough rest, it may be coming from a condition that is preventing you from getting the sleep you need.
Having spells during which you cannot sleep through the night is considered insomnia and affects up to 20%¹ of the population at one time or another. When it happens, most people have an issue with getting to sleep initially or waking up several times throughout the night.
Although it is common, the type of insomnia you are experiencing can vary from others, which means the symptoms and onsets are different. You could be experiencing either chronic or transient insomnia, which has different causes.
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Transient insomnia is a temporary condition that usually does not last beyond a few nights. It is often triggered by something that makes you overly anxious, scared, or stressed. Once the triggered situation is over, transient insomnia will start to subside.
Chronic or long-term insomnia is defined as insomnia that occurs at least three nights a week for more than three months. You may have tried different remedies to help you sleep, but you still find yourself unable to fall asleep, or you may wake up with difficulty falling back to sleep.
If you believe you have transient insomnia, there are a few symptoms and signs to look for:
Unable to fall asleep
Difficulty staying asleep
The situation has persisted for less than 2 or 3 months
Poor mental health
Inability to focus during the day
If you are lying in bed and trying to go to sleep but are unable to do so, that is a sign of transient insomnia. This may happen regularly for a few days. It is transient and not chronic if it goes away after a few days without signs of returning.
You may also wake up multiple times throughout the night. When this happens, it often takes time for you to fall back asleep. In these cases, it is hard for you to get through your entire sleep cycle.
If you cannot sleep through the night, you may find yourself very tired during the day. This can keep you from having a solid work performance and dull your cognitive abilities. A lack of sleep can be a safety concern, especially if you are driving or operating equipment.
Whether something related to your mental health causes the onset of transient insomnia, your mental health may, in turn, suffer while you are having these episodes. This could impact your decisions, increase anxiety, and possibly result in other mental health concerns like depression if it is not resolved.
When transient insomnia sets in, it is typically triggered by one or more of the following events:
A traumatic event
The stress of a breakup or divorce
Stress from a change in career
Jet lag when traveling
Acute medical illness
Side effects of medication
Any significant event that has happened in your life recently and caused new stress levels will be enough to trigger transient insomnia. As you learn to cope with the change or reach out to a professional for medical assistance, these episodes should start to subside.
If you have recently undergone an attack or other traumatic event where you felt helpless and unable to defend yourself, you could be rattled. You may be scared that the event will happen again, making it difficult to sleep because you want to be alert. Such trauma could also be related to a loved one or something you saw.
Sometimes there are different events that cause us unexpected stress. You may be anxious or worried about coming changes and how you can handle these situations. When this happens, it is hard to slow your brain down enough at night to get some rest.
Many who experience changes like joining new career fields undergo further stress for a few days, which could impact their sleeping until they develop a new routine.
If these symptoms sound like what you are experiencing, you will want to get a diagnosis to begin treatment for transient insomnia. Visit your healthcare provider and let them know what is going on. Identify when this began and any significant events you experienced around the time it started.
You should visit a healthcare provider sooner rather than later so that you can start treating transient insomnia. Early treatment can reduce the number of symptoms you experience and how long you experience insomnia overall.
Once diagnosed with transient insomnia, you will want to create a healthy sleep routine. Make sure that your environment is conducive to sleeping and encourages that behavior. Remove any distractions you may have in the room that could prevent you from sleeping.
Also, make sure you are getting enough exercise throughout the day so that your energy is winding down at night as it should. You also want to limit caffeine to just the mornings so the effects of it are worn off when it is time for you to go to bed.
Another form of treatment for transient insomnia is to seek counseling. Transient insomnia has a direct relationship with your mental health. It is essential if you have experienced a recent trauma, that you seek treatment for what you are experiencing. As your mental health improves and you recover, your transient insomnia episodes will be expected to decrease, allowing you to feel better physically.
Transient insomnia is a temporary version of insomnia as we know it. When it happens, there is usually a change in your environment or events that have altered your lifestyle.
Being able to diagnose correctly and then treat insomnia means addressing triggers so that sleepless nights will drastically reduce. Getting medical assistance is an excellent option to help you beat these symptoms if they are not improving while also establishing a healthy routine and caring for your mental health.
Insomnia awareness day facts and stats | Sleep Education
What are the different types of insomnia? | Sleep Foundation
Insomnia | University of California San Francisco Health