Everybody has a bad night of sleep once in a while — but if you sleep poorly three or more nights per week, and if your poor-quality sleep or too-short sleep affects your daily life, you might be suffering from insomnia.
Potential Insomnia Causes and Contributors
- Stressful life events and changes in sleep behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, such as shift work or being a “night owl”
- Medical conditions, such as chronic pain, asthma, arthritis, cancer or heart failure
- Psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety disorders, trauma or depression
- Use of certain medications or alcohol
- Factors in your sleep environment
Signs You Should Get Help for Insomnia
Acute, or short-term, insomnia can happen when you're dealing with stress (e.g., job loss, a relationship breakup, moving to a new home) or an injury. This kind of insomnia usually goes away when you reduce or eliminate the source of stress — but if your insomnia has a significant impact on your daily activities at work, school or home, treatment can help. A visit to your primary care doctor is a good place to start; they may refer you to a Rush sleep expert.
If you experience the following issues three or more nights a week for more than three months, you may have chronic insomnia — and need help from the sleep experts at Rush.
- It takes you too long to fall asleep.
- You wake up frequently or for too long during the night.
- You awaken earlier than you need to and are unable to return to sleep.
- You are not able to get enough hours of sleep to feel rested and energetic for most of the day.
- You experience daytime effects of insomnia, such as fatigue, trouble with concentration or memory, irritability or mood changes, sleepiness or lower performance at school or work.
It's important to treat chronic insomnia, because research shows that it can contribute to serious health consequences such as an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, stroke and heart attack.
Insomnia can also affect your daily quality of life. It can cause fatigue, anxiety and problems with concentration or memory, which have an effect on your mood and productivity. Daytime sleepiness caused by insomnia can be dangerous, making you more prone to accidents at work, on the road or at home.
Insomnia Testing and Diagnosis at Rush
Talk with your primary care provider if you have symptoms of insomnia. They can refer you to one of our behavioral sleep medicine experts, who specialize in diagnosing and treating children and adults with insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Your behavioral sleep medicine specialist will begin with a comprehensive evaluation by asking you about your sleep symptoms, sleep environment, sleep timing, physical and mental health history, current medications, health habits and sources of stress in your life.
Other tests, such as wrist activity monitoring or an overnight sleep study, may be part of your diagnostic testing if your sleep specialist thinks you might have sleep apnea or another issue.
Insomnia Treatment at Rush
The first-line treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A Rush psychologist who is board-eligible or board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine will help you change the thoughts and behaviors that keep you from sleeping well.
If you’ve been prescribed medication for insomnia, your behavioral sleep medicine specialist will coordinate with the provider who prescribed it to help you lower your dose or even discontinue it. Prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications are suitable only for occasional, short-term use, so we focus on getting you back to healthy sleep without long-term medication use.
If your evaluation suggests that your insomnia is related to a condition like sleep apnea or issues with your heart or lungs, your behavioral sleep specialist will coordinate your care with other Rush specialists, such as sleep medicine specialists, pulmonologists, sleep surgeons and ear, nose and throat doctors.
Rush Excellence in Insomnia Care
- Accredited by the national authority on sleep medicine: Rush's sleep disorders centers in Chicago, Oak Park, Aurora and Yorkville are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine — the gold standard of sleep medicine that assures you of high-quality, patient-centered care.
- A team focused on you: Your Rush sleep specialist works closely with you to pinpoint the exact cause of your insomnia. If needed, they'll collaborate with experts in other specialty areas to make a treatment plan that gets you sleeping restfully again.
- Care close to home: With board-certified sleep medicine physicians in Chicago, Oak Park, Aurora and Yorkville, there's a Rush sleep expert conveniently located near you. The sleep centers in Chicago and Oak Park have behavioral sleep medicine specialists on site.
- Research that saves lives: Rush is a leading academic medical system, where our sleep experts conduct research on new insomnia treatments and the disorder's potential effects. For example, a Rush researcher's work contributed to the FAA's rules on mandatory sleep times and flight duty-hour limits for all U.S. airline pilots.