What is Sleep Onset Insomnia?

There are numerous sleep problems. They can come and go and be diagnosed as acute, or they can occur frequently and be called chronic. The medical field also tends to break down the type of sleep problems that occur into two overhead groups, called sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia. The latter means people have trouble staying asleep or going back to sleep if something disrupts their sleep in the middle of the night. The former refers to that very common problem of not being able to get to sleep in the first place. Typically any person who cannot go to sleep after 30 minutes of attempting to has sleep onset insomnia.

Any person, young or old, may suffer from this condition on a chronic or acute basis. A child worried about sleeping after witnessing a scary move might suffer acute sleep onset insomnia for a few months or a few days, only to later return to a more regular sleeping pattern. Stressors in any person’s life, such as a looming job interview, final exams, or an upcoming family gathering could all cause the acute form. The main difference between these people and those who suffer the chronic form is that acute sufferers have a limited condition that usually resolves. Those who suffer from chronic forms of this type of sleep difficulty may constantly be deprived of adequate sleep, which has a far-reaching impact on life.


There are many potential treatments for sleep onset insomnia, and some would naturally suggest various sleep medicines or tranquilizers as the best choice. These might work in the interim, but they can create dependency, and they usually don’t resolve the problem. Some studies have suggested that those with this condition are better off pursuing therapy, and that especially cognitive behavioral therapy may be the best method for tackling the problem. It tends to continue to work after therapy is over, whereas pharmaceutical therapies don’t work when they’re discontinued.

Of course, every person is different, and some people find it an excellent trade off at night to take a pill that will help them sleep. People in acute trauma situations, even with therapy, may not find all the relief they need and might require medical support. This is a very good thing to discuss with a doctor or psychiatrist; especially since there is now significant evidence that insomnia and depression are connected in some vital ways.

One condition may undoubtedly require medical support, and that is restless legs syndrome, which is a common cause of sleep onset insomnia. People with this condition are advised to speak their physicians. There are treatments that can help, and similarly those who have trouble falling to sleep because of constant urge to use the bathroom, may be helped by medications that calm bladder sensations.

Many people eschew traditional medicine when attempting to tackle sleep onset insomnia that doesn’t involve restless legs syndrome or bladder issues. They might head to the herbal remedies aisle of a health or natural food store instead. There are a number of herbal or natural remedies thought to help promoted sleepiness, including melatonin, valerian, tryptophan, and others. Alternately, others try remedies to be found at home like glasses of warm milk, servings of bananas, toast, or honey.

Changing some behaviors might prove helpful for those with temporary insomnia, including limiting caffeine, not drinking alcohol at bedtime, exercising in the morning instead of at night, and not using a television to try to go to sleep. These might help promote more rest, and could be combined with either prescribed or home remedies for a better chance to a fall asleep.

Unfortunately some people resist treatment of all kinds. They may be able to take horse pills of tranquilizers and still not get sleepy. Continuing work with a doctor and a therapist is highly advised to find a solution to this problem, because both physical and mental health are at risk when people never get appropriate sleep amounts due to severe sleep onset insomnia.



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