Insomnia is linked to many medical conditions, including chronic pain, cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In addition, conditions such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome may disturb sleep. Other causes of insomnia include mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, as well as stressful life circumstances.
A lack of sleep can make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly, making work and personal relationships more challenging. In addition, the effects of long-term insomnia can compound over time. For example, studies show that even one night of poor sleep can increase your risk for high blood pressure, and over time, it increases the likelihood of having an accident, such as a car crash.
The good news is that the treatment for long-term insomnia typically includes lifestyle changes and medications. In some cases, your healthcare provider may also prescribe psychological therapy to help you change the way you think about sleep and find healthy ways to relax before bedtime. They may also suggest avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes, and going to bed at the same time each night. They may also recommend other calming medicines, such as sedatives or hypnotic drugs (which get their name from Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep), and some herbs and supplements, such as valerian. Your healthcare provider is the best person to tell you about these treatments and which are right for you.