Treating Insomnia in New York and New Jersey
Insomnia is a common issue that affects a person’s quality of life. Whether it is chronic or acute, insomnia can make you feel fatigued, anxious, or irritable. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, chronic insomnia affects about 30% of the population. Learn more about insomnia and how it is diagnosed and treated at Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine on Staten Island, New York.
What Is Insomnia?
Many people know the frustrating feeling of not being able to fall asleep at night. Sleeplessness affects everyone from time to time. Sometimes it might be the result of too much caffeine, or other times it might be caused by a person feeling worried or overwhelmed. Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. Primary insomnia is a standalone disorder, while secondary insomnia is caused by another medical issue or is a side effect of medication.
Insomnia is also categorized based on when it happens:
- Initial insomnia: Also known as sleep onset insomnia, this means a person has difficulty falling asleep.
- Middle insomnia: This is the most common form of insomnia. Patients with middle insomnia, also known as maintenance insomnia, frequently wake up in the middle of the night and eventually fall back asleep.
- Late insomnia: In this form, a person wakes up early in the morning and cannot get back to sleep, It is also known as early waking insomnia.
Causes and Risk Factors
In some cases, insomnia is caused by a specific underlying issue. For other patients, insomnia is due to a mix of factors. Causes of insomnia can include:
- Family history
- Medical conditions that affect the body’s circadian rhythm
- Mental health conditions
- Alcohol use
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Stressful or challenging life circumstances
Symptoms of Insomnia
Patients with insomnia have trouble sleeping, whether it is falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. Other symptoms of insomnia include:
- Low energy or drowsiness during the day
- Difficulty paying attention
- Depression, anxiety, or mood swings
- Chronic headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
- Worry or frustration about lack of sleep
- Poor performance at work or school
Diagnosing insomnia may seem straightforward, but identifying the underlying issues that are contributing to sleep problems can take time. If a patient is struggling with insomnia, their provider will review their medical history to look for contributing factors. This can include current or past medical conditions, any medications or supplements the patient is taking, or any environmental factors or stressful life changes.
The provider may ask the patient to keep a sleep diary to track:
- When they go to bed and wake up
- How long it takes to fall asleep
- How long they are awake during the night
- If they nap during the day
Diagnostic tests can rule out conditions that can affect sleep and energy levels, such as thyroid problems. In some cases, a provider will recommend a sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram. The patient will stay overnight in a lab where sleep specialists will monitor the patient’s heart rate, brain activity, breathing, and other functions while they sleep.
How Insomnia Is Treated
Chronic poor sleep is linked to several health issues, including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. That is why it is so important to identify the cause of insomnia and seek appropriate treatment. Some patients benefit from over-the-counter or prescription medications that help them fall asleep or stay asleep through the night. Because prescription medications can have side effects, it is important to work with an experienced doctor to manage these medications.
Most sleep specialists will recommend implementing habits to encourage good sleep, known as sleep hygiene. These might include:
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, especially close to bedtime
- Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day
- Getting sufficient physical activity during the day
- Avoiding naps during the day
- Meditating or practicing relaxation techniques
Patients may also benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). This form of therapy can help a person control the negative thoughts or actions that keep them awake at night.
Choose Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine
Patients who are struggling with insomnia can find compassionate care at Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine. Our clinic is led by Dr. Dosik Kim, M.D., F.C.C.P., who has extensive experience diagnosing and treating insomnia, pulmonary conditions, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. Dr. Kim takes the time to get to know each patient and educate them about underlying conditions that can affect sleep and the treatment options that are available.
Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine’s office includes a comfortable onsite sleep lab for patients who require polysomnography. To get started, complete our new patient forms or contact us to learn more about our services.