Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes insomnia?"
Like everybody else in my family, I have insomnia. It's really easy for me to fall asleep, but I usually wake up several times a night, and wake up too early, and can't get back to sleep. I usually wake up thinking about things, but sometimes they're not even serious things. What is the root cause of this? Do I have a chemical imbalance?
Insomnia is an extremely complex problem that we as physicians have only limited understanding of. I'll give you a quick run down and some suggestions. Insomnia can have many causes. If you drink any caffeinated beverages after 12:00PM, then you may have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. Patients that report frequent wakening with difficulty falling back asleep sometimes are suffering from depression. This will be a consideration when you present the problem to a doctor. If this isn't the case then you may be having trouble getting back to sleep because you know you've had trouble in the past. Consider using white noise, and removing any clocks from the room so you are not reminded what time it is. Finally, if you snore, you may have sleep apnea which can also result in frequent awakenings. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with you primary care physician. You can discuss some of your symptoms and some of the strategies to get better sleep. It is important that you don't try to live with this problem because your quality of life will improve with better sleep. If he or she thinks you have a disorder such as sleep apnea, they may refer you to a sleep specialist. Good luck.
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