What are the symptoms of insomnia?

This question was asked in Indianapolis, Indiana on 04/12/2012.
I just can't seem to fall asleep. And once I'm relaxed, I still toss and turn. I wake up tired and moody. Are those some characteristics of insomnia?

Doctors Answers (2)

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 4/13/2012

Insomnia is a symptom usually characterized by inability to fall or stay asleep. Being a symptom, it can be caused by a number of conditions both medical and non-medical. I usually explain to my patients that just like you have a headache, you can have insomnia. It is now up to your medical provider to help you figure out what is causing the symptom, what is making it worse, what makes it better and how to manage it. Once you have identified the cause of the problem, then it is much easier to treat the symptom. Some common sleep related diseases that cause insomnia are sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, body clock disturbances, pain and, in some cases, it is situational, meaning something in the environment is causing trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Waking up tired and mood disturbances are associated with anything that disrupts quality of sleep. It is best to consult with a sleep specialist in these situations.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/13/2012

Insomnia is the inability to sleep. There are many types of insomnia including difficulty initiating sleep, awakening in the middle of the night and awakening too early. How much sleep a person needs figures into the matter. If you are genetically inclined to need only 5 hours of sleep to feel "restored" during the day and you only get 3-4 hours, that is insomnia. If you need 9-10 hours of sleep then getting only 8 hours would be insomnia. The major issue is not always how much sleep you get but how do you feel the next day. Symptoms of insomnia, therefore, are sleeplessness and daytime consequences such as feeling "tired and moody." Some persons feel depressed or have difficulty concentrating but are not necessarily sleepy during the day, just tired. If your insomnia can be attributed to a cause such as external noise, pain, anxiety, leg movements, acid reflux, sleep apnea, etc. then you are sleep deprived and will likely be sleepy in the daytime. Before taking a sleep aide, it is best to consult with your physician who can search for a cause for your insomnia.