Insomnia in all forms refers to regular problems with sleeping. It is something most people will experience at some point in their lives and can often be overcome by changing your sleeping habits. For some people, however, the condition can be severe enough to last for a long time and create other health issues as a result. Serious health issues are unlikely if your insomnia can be considered just a mild form, but if it is left untreated, it could develop into a more severe and harmful form of the condition.
Our Health Care Team
"Insomnia is a disruptive and frustrating condition which can make a mess of your daily routine even if it occurs in a relatively mild form. Happily, the majority of cases can be managed with better sleep practices and methods of relaxation before bed. However mild insomnia can persist for some, which can eventually create other problems for a person’s physical and mental health in the long-term. Medications can be used to deal with mild insomnia if it proves particularly disruptive and tricky to supress. But such treatment should be treated as a last-resort option and should not be used for a prolonged period to avoid dependence or tolerance towards the medication."
When is insomnia considered mild?
There are multiple ways which insomnia may be described to determine how severe the condition is for someone. Mild forms of insomnia are likely to be described as either acute insomnia or short term insomnia. Other alternative terms include adjustment insomnia, stress-related insomnia and transient insomnia.
When experiencing this type of insomnia, the effects may only last a few weeks at most or even just a few days. Altering your sleeping habits can put a stop to this problem, but a short and mild spell of insomnia may occur at a certain time of the year because of certain events that spark it, such as exams, deadlines or short-term stress with work.
Insomnia can also be classed as either primary or secondary. If it is primary, that means it is a problem in its own right, and is not a symptom is type of insomnia is mostly likely caused by issues such as bad sleeping habits, too much light or noise in your sleeping space or consuming stimulants too of side effect of another illness too close to bedtime. Secondary insomnia refers to when the condition is a side effect or symptom of another illness or it is being caused by medication you’re currently using. Illnesses which can possibly lead to insomnia include physical injuries like heartburn and arthritic pain or mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
How much sleep is normal to get?
The amount of sleep which is recommended for you depends on your age and lifestyle and the quality of sleep is vital too. The NHS recommends that babies and toddlers get 12 to 17 hours sleep a day. Children are recommended 9 to 13 hours sleep and for adults it’s 7 to 9 hours sleep.
Having unbroken sleep is the best type to have in terms of quality. So for instance, 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep is better than 9 hours of sleep which is light and frequently interrupted.
Symptoms of mild insomnia
Common symptoms of mild/acute insomnia include the following:
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Struggling to stay asleep
- Early morning awakenings
- Fatigue or daytime sleepiness
- Lack of attention or concentration
- Social or vocational dysfunction
- Headache or stomach symptoms
What causes mild insomnia?
There are many things which could potentially create a period of mild/acute insomnia. Potential triggers can include the following:
- Environmental factors such as there being too much light or noise in the room you’re trying to sleep in
- Feelings of stress, grief or anxiety
- Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine or alcohol
- An event responsible for a disruption to your usual sleep pattern, such as working night shift or jet lag
- Severe pain caused by potential factors like a dental procedure or a migraine
- Certain medications such as antidepressants, epilepsy medications and steroid medications could cause insomnia as a side effect
What treatments are there for mild insomnia?
Often with insomnia (particularly mild cases of the issue), it is possible to cure it by making some lifestyle changes. This is the first advice you’ll be given if you see your GP about having insomnia. You’re more likely to avoid long or even short and mild spells of insomnia if you practice better sleeping habits, referred to by some as “good sleep hygiene”.
If committing to good sleeping habits is not an issue but you have still experienced mild insomnia regardless, then there is other action you can take if you are worried it will evolve into a more severe form of insomnia.
Changes to achieve good sleep hygiene
There are all kinds of things you can try out to achieve good sleep hygiene, such as the following:
- Set regular times for going to bed at night and getting up in the morning
- Avoid using your phone, laptop/PC or watching TV just before sleeping as the blue light the screens emit can disrupt your attempts to sleep. It’s preferable to not look at a gadget screen in the hour or two before going to bed
- Consider adjustments that could be made to your bedroom to make it the best sleep environment it could be
- Avoid napping during the day
- Try relaxation techniques before bed time such as taking a bath, meditating, reading a light fiction book or listening to calm music
- Do some light exercise in the day
- Avoid watching the clock as it could make you worry about how long you’ve been awake for
- Turn your phone off or at least avoid using it while in bed
Talking to a GP
If you feel your insomnia is impacting your day to day life, then you could speak to your GP about his issue. It’s worth arranging an appointment with your GP if insomnia symptoms have lasted for more than 4 weeks, even if they could be considered mild insomnia symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Some people find that cognitive behavioural therapy with a trained sleep therapist can resolve troubles with sleeping. This method is particularly relevant if you know your insomnia is being caused by a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. If you find that emotional feelings are keeping you up at night, then you could consult a professional sleep therapist about the right steps to take.
There are medications available which people can use to treat insomnia symptoms. However, your doctor will likely be reluctant to prescribe such medication to you right away when you report having troubles sleeping. It is recommended you take steps to improve your sleep hygiene before taking tougher measures such as using prescription-only medicine. This especially applies when dealing with mild/acute insomnia symptoms.
While sleeping tablets could solve difficulties with sleeping in the short term, they can possibly mask a bigger issue that’ll crop up again when you stop taking the tablets. Furthermore, using sleeping tablets for a prolonged period can lead to both tolerance and dependence. Still, if your insomnia does develop into a serious and lengthy issue, then you can get sleeping tablets prescribed to manage the problem in the short term. You should not take these tablets for more than a few weeks at a time.
At Doctor-4-U, you can order different types of sleeping tablets online including ones which provide slow release of treatment or which are fast acting. An example of slow release tablets we offer is Circadin, which are effective several hours after taking as the chemical is released into your bloodstream, and generally have a lower chance of addiction. Faster acting sleeping tablets we sell include Zolpidem, also sold under the brand name Ambien. This delivers a quicker action by increasing the sedative effect of chemicals in the brain.