October 28

Insomnia: Do you have it?

After reading my last blog post on myths and misconceptions about insomnia, you may be questioning whether or not you have insomnia. At the end of this blog post, hopefully you will have a clearer idea as to whether you actually have insomnia.

How do you know if you have insomnia?

There are three main types of insomnia.

  • One type of insomnia is difficulty falling asleep. If you have this type of insomnia, it takes you a few hours to fall asleep.
  • Another type is an ability to fall asleep quickly but you wake up after a few hours and can’t fall back to sleep.
  • A third type of insomnia is no deep sleep. You’re able to fall and stay asleep but your sleep is light and restless, and you wake up feeling unrefreshed.

You may have a combination of all these types of insomnia. In addition, the type of insomnia you have can change over time.

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?

As I wrote in the last blog post on insomnia, the amount of sleep you need is an individual thing. If you’re getting at least 5.5 hours of sleep per night, then you’re getting enough sleep and your daytime performance is not affected.

If you’re getting enough sleep each night, then you probably

  • set an alarm to wake you up in the morning
  • sleep in on weekends
  • tend to fall asleep during sedentary activities, such as meetings or while watching TV

If this is true for you, then you’re likely getting enough sleep and you may be trying to get more sleep than you need.

Signs that you have insomnia

You likely have insomnia if

  • you’re sleeping less than 5.5 hours per night and
  • you feel drowsy, tired, and irritable the next day and
  • your daytime performance is affected: you have difficulty with problem solving, remembering things, and you are unable to stay alert

Whether or not you have insomnia does not depend on the number of hours you sleep at night. Rather, it depends on how well you are able to function the next day given the amount of sleep you had the night before. If you slept only a few hours the previous night but are able to function well the next day, then you don’t have insomnia. You simply need less sleep.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will be about medical conditions and medications that can interfere with sleep.

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