Beyond Counting Sheep: Managing Acute Insomnia
When most people think of insomnia, they think of chronic insomnia. We have all read stories about chronic insomniacs who are forced to survive on precious little sleep, potentially for years at a time; the condition is fairly well-known and frequently discussed.
However, there is another form of insomnia that receives far less attention: acute insomnia.
What is acute insomnia?
Acute insomnia features the same key symptom of chronic insomnia — the inability to sleep — but the duration is different. The general threshold for chronic insomnia is difficulty sleeping for six or more months; acute insomnia is term used to describe the months preceding the six-month marker being reached…
Why is acute insomnia so problematic?
Acute insomnia is essentially a period of life where your sleep is suffering, but you are highly unlikely to be able to access medical treatment. Many medical professionals prefer to wait until six months — or even more — have passed before pursuing further diagnostic testing or exploring treatment options. You should always visit your doctor to discuss sudden-onset insomnia, but it is possible that you will be advised treatment is not suitable in the short-term.
This is a sensible delay, as sleep studies can be expensive, and sleeping tablets are known to be addictive. However, this delay does mean that, should you experience acute insomnia, you’re stuck: you can’t sleep, you’re almost certainly battling physical and mental health issues because of this, but your doctor will likely tell you there is nothing they can do until six months has passed.
What can you do if you suffer from acute insomnia?
If you have visited a doctor and been informed of the need to wait for further treatment, there are a few ideas you may want to consider experimenting with in the meantime:
- Read through the side effects information for any medication or supplements you are taking, especially if the dose has recently been increased.
- Lifestyle factors are one of the leading causes of insomnia. To address these, begin by practicing good sleep hygiene wherever possible — going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps, and so on.
- Stress is one of the biggest causes of insomnia; it may be worth taking an online test (https://www.bemindfulonline.com/test-your-stress/) to see if this may be an issue for you. If it is, then speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
- If good sleep hygiene fails, then you may need to investigate behavioral causes. For example, eliminate caffeine, drink more water, and similar steps.
- The next factor to consider is your sleeping environment. Consider your bed and, particularly, your mattress; if this is not in the best condition, then it may be worth replacing this to see if things improve; spend a little time reading reviews (www.mattress-guides.net/new-purple-mattress-review-complaints) and considering your options prior to investing, so you can find a mattress that is just to your liking. You may also want to consider a sleep mask to help eliminate excess light, and potentially installing an air conditioning system so you can better control the temperature of your bedroom.
When should you speak to a doctor?
While you may not qualify for medical treatment until the six-month mark, it is worth speaking to a doctor if your insomnia continues for more than two weeks.
Hopefully, by experimenting with the ideas above — and speaking to a medical professional if necessary — you will be able to find a remedy to acute insomnia as quickly and efficiently as possible.