The Treatment That Helps You Get the Sleep You Need Depends on the Type of Insomnia You Have

Medical books often describe sleeplessness either "primary" or secondary insomnia, depending on whether the lack of sleep has an identifiable, medical cause. For you to find the right approach to dealing with insomnia, however, further distinctions are necessary. Here is a quick summary of the major types of insomnia.

Transient insomnia lasts a week or less. It is often caused by anxiety or a sleep adjustment disorder, for example the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, severe weather, or having to stay up to study for exams. Transient insomnia can also result from caffeine abuse or jet lag. Short-term sleep difficulties are especially amenable to treatment with sleeping pills because of the low risk of dependency. When a medication is taken so long that dependency results, rebound insomnia, that is resistant to medication, can result.

Acute insomnia, which lasts more than a week but less than month, is also amenable to treatment with medications that do not cause dependency, such as the hypnotics or melatonin. Nutritional treatment with magnesium, especially when insomnia is related to premenstrual disorders or menopause in women, and homeopathic remedies, tied to the user's uniquely personal set of symptoms, are also likely to help.

Chronic insomnia lasts at least a month. Some kinds of chronic insomnia go on for years or even a lifetime. Chronic insomnia in children includes primary insomnia, nightmares, and night terrors. Chronic insomnia in adults includes psychophysiological insomnia, a condition in which worries about insomnia perpetuate it, and paradoxical insomnia, in which people appear to be sleeping soundly but are actually suffering sleep apnea without the characteristic snoring.

Hypothyroidism is the underlying cause of millions of cases of insomnia in adults around the world. Also striking adults are familial fatal insomnia and sporadic fatal insomnia, variations of terminal insomnia which fortunately strike fewer than 1 in 50,000,000 people worldwide. Hypersomnia, of course, is not a kind of insomnia at all, but rather a condition of feeling sleepy all or nearly all of the time.

The right medication for insomnia depends on the time of night the sufferer encounters difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia) or staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia). Almost no medications are effective for middle of the night insomnia, because of the tendency to cause drowsiness for six to eight hours after taking the pill.

Not all treatments for insomnia, however, are pharmaceutical. Some of the true insomnia cures are things you can do for yourself, changing your lifestyle or your sleeping style to overcome insomnia for good.

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