Insomnia is the term used to describe the challenge of not being able to sleep adequately. While this may seem straightforward at first glance, numerous elements can impact one's ability to fall asleep.

In some instances, it might be as straightforward as jet lag. In others, stress or a traumatic event might play a significant role. Identifying the root causes of insomnia is crucial for regaining control over one's health and life.

Dealing with insomnia can heavily impact your day-to-day life, resulting in fatigue, mood swings, and diminished effectiveness at work or in educational environments.

At Elevate Psychiatry, our team of mental health experts are committed to supporting you throughout your treatment journey. We aim to alleviate the effects of insomnia, enabling you to take back control of your life.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Signs and symptoms of insomnia can show themselves in many different ways. Key indicators of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up often during the night and finding it hard to go back to sleep
  • Waking up earlier than intended in the morning
  • Challenges with concentration or focus during the day
  • An increase in errors or accidents
  • Ongoing worries about sleep
  • Feeling like sleep wasn't restorative
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Mood swings, including irritability, sadness, or nervousness

Acknowledging these symptoms is vital for diagnosing insomnia and pursuing suitable treatment to enhance sleep quality and general health.

Causes & Risk Factors of Insomnia

A variety of elements, such as lifestyle habits, physical health conditions, and psychological issues, can lead to insomnia. Key causes and risk factors include:

  • Stress: Worrying about aspects like work, education, health, or family can hinder one's ability to wind down and fall asleep.
  • Irregular sleep routines: Fluctuating bedtimes, involving oneself in stimulating activities before bed, and an uncomfortable sleeping setting can contribute to insomnia.
  • Psychological disorders: Mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, can disrupt normal sleep patterns.
  • Physical health issues: Conditions that result in chronic pain or make breathing difficult can interfere with sleep.
  • Certain medications: Some prescription or over-the-counter medications can have insomnia as a side effect.
  • Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: Consuming these substances, particularly late in the day, can affect sleep quality.
  • Changes due to aging: Older adults may notice changes in sleep patterns, potentially leading to insomnia.

Recognizing these triggers is essential for effectively tackling and managing insomnia.

Types of Insomnia

Insomnia can be classified into different types depending on its cause, duration, and specific traits.

  • Chronic Insomnia: This form persists for more than six months and is often linked to underlying medical issues like chronic pain, migraines, or depression. Factors such as alcohol, stimulants, and certain medications may also play a role in sustaining chronic insomnia.
  • Intermittent Insomnia: This temporary yet recurring type of insomnia can last up to six months. It's typically triggered by stressors such as bereavement, financial difficulties, or significant injuries. Environmental disruptions like noise can also contribute to it.
  • Transient Insomnia: This short-term insomnia arises from stressful situations like upcoming exams, deadlines, or new job challenges. It usually resolves within a week.

Insomnia is also categorized based on its association with other health problems into primary or secondary types.

  • Primary Insomnia is an independent condition, not associated with any other health problems.
  • Secondary Insomnia, also known as comorbid insomnia, occurs in conjunction with another medical or psychological issue.

Another subset of classifications is based on the behavior attributed to the insomnia itself, such as:

  • Onset Insomnia is marked by challenges in falling asleep.
  • Maintenance Insomnia is defined by difficulties in staying asleep.
  • Behavioral Insomnia in childhood includes behaviors such as resisting going to bed, trouble falling asleep, or often waking up during the night. It impacts roughly one in four children.

Additionally, mixed insomnia combines various aspects of the aforementioned types.

Diagnosing Insomnia

Usually, a healthcare provider will diagnose insomnia through a comprehensive assessment.

You may be referred to a sleep specialist for an in-depth evaluation in certain cases. This could involve an overnight sleep study (polysomnography) to monitor your sleep patterns and identify any additional sleep disorders.

Alternatively, you might be able to perform a sleep study in your home. While not as thorough as a clinic-based overnight study, it can still offer important insights for diagnosis.

Treating Insomnia

Multiple approaches are available to treat insomnia, customized based on the underlying reasons and the severity of your symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend one or several of these methods.


Occasionally, to help manage insomnia, the use of medication may be recommended. This can include temporary solutions, such as benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sleep agents, or medications that target melatonin receptors.

Should your insomnia be linked to a mental health condition, medications for depression or anxiety may be advised. At Elevate Psychiatry, we collaborate with you to determine the most appropriate medication and dosage for your specific needs.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is an effective approach for addressing insomnia, particularly when it stems from stress or mental health issues.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a specialized form of CBT designed to identify and alter negative thought patterns and behaviors impacting sleep.

This therapy involves evaluating the causes of insomnia and working toward positive habits to promote healthy sleep. This could involve suggestions on sleep cycles and adjustments to activity levels and diet.

Lifestyle Changes & Modifications

Incorporating certain lifestyle adjustments, alongside expert advice, can significantly aid in managing insomnia. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule: Aim for a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends.
  • Create a calming bedtime routine: Engage in relaxing activities, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or performing relaxation exercises, before sleeping.
  • Make your sleep environment more conducive: Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and kept at a comfortable temperature. Opt for a supportive mattress and pillows.
  • Minimize screen exposure before bedtime: The blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with your sleep cycle.
  • Exercise regularly: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, but avoid workouts too close to bedtime.
  • Practice effective stress management: Include stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga in your routine.
  • Limit consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: Avoid these stimulants, particularly in the evening.

Adopting these lifestyle habits can create a more favorable setting for restful sleep, complementing any professional guidance or treatment plans.

Managing Insomnia with Elevate Psychiatry

If you're experiencing insomnia, it's important to consult a healthcare expert. Getting help early on can enhance treatment effectiveness and boost your quality of life.

At Elevate Psychiatry, we offer a number of services to help you understand and identify the factors influencing your insomnia. We help you create a treatment plan tailored to your medical needs that treats the symptoms and the heart of the issue itself.

Book an appointment online or get in touch with us at one of our three locations:

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