Severe Insomnia

Severe insomnia may require a sleep study

Severe insomnia is one of the most debilitating conditions to face. Insomnia is a condition in which a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It often causes a number of risk factors, including decreased mental function and the inability to made logical decisions. Those facing intense levels of insomnia are people who deal with insomnia on a daily or near daily basis.

Severe Insomnia Symptoms

Those that are facing severe insomnia will experience many nights of little to no sleep. The symptoms of insomnia are often the same for patients with severe, or chronic, insomnia. The symptoms may be more prolonged and more intense. For example, a person may have difficulty sleeping most days of the week instead of just a few nights per week. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep on a regular basis
  • Trouble staying asleep: often waking up during the night
  • Daytime sleepiness that is uncontrollable
  • Waking up too early most days of the week
  • Irritability during waking hours
  • Inability to perform mental tasks such as problem-solving

Causes of Severe Insomnia

Like the symptoms of insomnia, most of the causes for insomnia are the same for patients with severe forms. They may be more intense. Most will require medical or psychiatric treatment:

  • Prolonged stress: Stress that lasts for a long time can lead to long term insomnia. Stress such as the illness of a loved one, financial turmoil or marital problems can cause severe insomnia.
  • Psychiatric problems: Anxiety disorders, depression and other psychiatric problems can lead to severe insomniac conditions. Insomnia can worsen when bouts of these illnesses worsen, or when no treatment occurs after a long period.
  • Disruptive sleep: Those who are not able to sleep regular hours each night can experienced prolonged, intense bouts of insomnia. The body's internal mechanisms help to regulate sleep patterns. When this is disturbed for long periods, the patient can suffer from severe insomnia.
  • Intense pain: Pain caused from any type of medical ailment may cause insomnia. This may include chronic illnesses such as arthritis, neuropathies, and fibromyalgia. With treatment to reduce the pain, improvement in sleeping patterns happens.

Treatment Options

Insomnia that is chronic or considered severe often requires the attention of a doctor. Lifestyle changes can help, including improving sleep patterns, reducing stimulus prior to bedtime and reducing noise and light, but most patients will require more help for better benefits.


Doctors often require patients to undergo a sleep study, to further learn about the condition and what the patient is actually experiencing. During a sleep study, patients spend one or more nights at a testing facility and will not have to do anything other than sleep. Doctors monitor your movements, your alertness and other triggers.

Through sleep studies, doctors can work to pinpoint the underlying cause of the insomnia so they can better treat it. Several treatment options for insomnia are available:

  • Behavioral treatment: Patients work with doctors and psychiatric professionals to re-learn how to sleep. New behaviors are taught. Information is given to help patients to set up a better sleeping environment and lifestyle.
  • Medications: Medications are frequently used to treat insomnia. Common prescription medications for severe insomnia include Zolpidem (Ambien), Zaleplon (Sonata) and Eszopiclone (Lunesta.) A newer medication called Ramelteon (Rozerem) has shown promise in being successful at treating insomnia without the side effects of other medications.
  • Treatment of underlying cause: Doctors also must treat the underlying cause of the severe insomnia. This may include medications to reduce pain, psychiatric treatment to reduce emotional problems, or stress management.

Because doctors are able to treat most forms of insomnia through a combination of these methods, most patients can overcome severe insomnia. Some people are more prone to insomnia than others are and remissions are more likely in these individuals.

Those who believe they could be suffering from severe insomnia should seek out medical attention. Those who drive, work or perform critical decision making may be placing themselves in danger. Talk to your doctor about the treatments available.

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Severe Insomnia