Unable to Sleep? The Symptoms of Insomnia

Generally Speaking, there are three types of insomnia that will render you unable to sleep. They are:

  • Initial Insomnia: Going to bed but not able to fall asleep for a very long time
  • Middle Insomnia: Waking up in the middle of the night and having difficulty getting back to sleep
  • Terminal Insomnia: Waking up after a few hours sleep and not being able to get back to sleep for the remainder of the night

Terminal insomnia, also known as late insomnia, is an irritating problem where you could go to sleep very easily when first going to bed but you wake up a few hours afterward and be unable to sleep for the remainder of the night. Because you are waking up so early, without enough rest, you frequently feel out of sorts and frustrated for the remainder of the day. Despite its grim name, terminal insomnia won’t kill you, but it certainly does take a lot of enjoyment out of life.

The first step to getting rid of terminal insomnia is to find out how many hours of sleep you personally need to be fully rested. Unlike both Initial and Middle insomnia where the symptoms are self evident, what might be mistaken for Terminal Insomnia but be, in fact, someone who is simply a “short sleeper” and not suffering from insomnia at all.

People who are short sleepers can function perfectly fine on just four to five hours of rest each night. If you are someone who is able to function well with much less sleep than your friends you probably don’t have terminal insomnia but are simply going to bed to early in the evenings.

If that is the situation, your out of sorts feeling could well be caused by your lying awake for hours trying to will yourself back to sleep. Tonight, try going to bed a couple of hours later so you will wake up later in the morning, more in synch with the rest of the family. You might find that alone does the trick.

On the other hand, if you have never before been a short sleeper and this reduced sleep is causing real problems that could really be a symptom of terminal insomnia. If that is indeed the case, then its time to to find out what may be causing all this unpleasantness.

Keeping what is known as a sleep diary for a week or two is a great help in determining whay you are having difficulties sleeping. For not less than two weeks, record what you are thinking and how you feel emotionally when you first wake up. Keeping this record over time is a big help in discovering if there is an emotional cause for your lack of sleep. For this to work, you must record EVERYTHING. Don’t self censor or omit anything.

Sleep studies have shown that Initial Insomnia is frequently caused by stress and anxiety, Middle and Terminal Insomnia are more often the result of frustration, anger, or depression. Keeping a detailed sleep diary will help to uncover these emotions.

When you are unable to sleep a diary will also be a key to determining if the causes of your problems are physical rather than emotional.

A good example of a physical cause is malfunctioning thermostat. If you have your heating/cooling system set to make a temperature change at a certain time of night and it doesn’t work, that can cause you to wake up. Similarly, any outside distractions like your neighbor changing his work schedule and leaving early in the morning can easily be enough of a disturbance to wake you up.

Identifying and solving these simple symptoms of insomnia can usually be done without drugs or professional help. If, however, you have no luck in solving your symptoms of insomnia on your own, don’t hesitate to involve your personal medical adviser to help.