Acute insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep complaints. There are multiple types of insomnia based on the duration and potential causes. Of the types lasting less than three months, a more common one is acute insomnia. Others of this duration include circadian rhythm sleep disorders such as jet lag and shift work, as well as high altitude insomnia.

Insomnia patients find it hard to sleep at night

Defining the Disorder

Acute insomnia lasts for less than three months and is related in time to an identifiable cause. Insomnia is present when there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or when the sleep that is obtained is non-refreshing or of poor quality. These problems occur despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep and they must result in problems with daytime function.

What Else is it Called?

  • Adjustment insomnia
  • Short-term insomnia
  • Stress-related insomnia
  • Transient insomnia

What are the Symptoms?

There are any common symptoms of acute insomnia, including:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Fatigue or daytime sleepiness
  • Poor attention or concentration
  • Mood changes (including worry or reduced motivation or energy)
  • Social or vocational dysfunction (including increased errors or accidents)
  • Tension, headache, or stomach symptoms

What are the Causes?

Noisy neighbours can be the cause of acute insomnia

There are many potential causes of acute insomnia, ranging from physical to psychological to social to environmental. In most cases, the condition resolves when the affected person adapts or no longer is subject to the cause. These potential causes include:

  • Changes in noise, lighting, temperature, or other conditions of the sleep space. If the lighting in your room has changed, then you may want to adjust the lights. Environmental changes such as noise pollution can also trigger acute insomnia. If you recently moved to a noisy area, you may want to find a solution, such as shutting your windows.
  • Medications (especially those with stimulant properties)
  • Use of or withdrawal from caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol
  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Nocturia (nighttime urination)
  • May occur when a new baby arrives. Few mothers suffer the baby blues when a child is born. The blues will cause insomnia temporary and medications may be needed. If you recently had a baby and suffering insomnia, nervousness, panic attacks, anxiety and so forth, be sure to tell your doctor so the right medications can be giving to minimize the problem. Your baby is a welcoming challenge, thus your baby needs your undivided attention where insomnia suffering is getting in the way.
  • It is possible to suffer acute insomnia when a death occurs in the family. It is important that you realize the death is not your fault and death is going to happen regardless of what you do to try to change it. If you are suffering insomnia because of a death in the family, try to remember that the deceased is no longer suffering. The deceased is in a better place than you are and his/her worries have ended. You may want to take short walks during the day and admire the beauty around you.

How is it Diagnosed?

A diagnosis that can be made by a healthcare provider who performs a careful history and physical examination. It is important that coexisting medical condition, psychiatric and neurologic disorders, sleep disorders, and medication or drug causes be considered. In some cases, additional testing may be indicated, though this is not often the case.

To treat acute insomnia, a health care provided may prescribe sleeping pills for a limited time to reduce daytime sleepiness and fatigue, making it easier for people to function during the day. Adding stress reducers can also go a long way. However, acute insomnia may not require any treatment at all, as it is a mild form of insomnia.

Good sleep hygiene can help you beat the vicious cycle of insomnia. Good sleep hygiene includes going to sleep and waking at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late in the day, exercising regularly and practicing relaxation techniques such as reading a book, listening to music or taking a bath before bed.

At the counselors visit, you will be similar questions, which the counselor will assess your case and most likely setup an appointment to visit the psychologist or psychiatrist on staff. This visit will last about 20 minutes to 45 minutes and then you will be prescribed medications. Be sure to follow the doctor’s advice to the fullest and let the doctor know how you are responding to the medications. If the medication fails to work, it is possible you do not have the right dosage or the medications need to be replaced and new medicines provided. Remember it takes a few days for the medicines to get in your system and begin working. Make sure you understand all the side effects of the medications to avoid panic. You may want to add a few stress reducers in your schedule to assist the medications.

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