Common Condition That Affects Sleep Patterns

Insomnia is very common and affects about 30% of the population. It impacts our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep or fall back asleep in the middle of the night. Insomnia can also manifest as waking up way too early to start the day and being unable to go back to sleep.

Insomnia can be caused by stressful life experiences or physical health problems. Some individuals experience chronic insomnia disorder, which is when your sleep is affected several days a week for three months or more at a time. Approximately 10% of the population has chronic insomnia disorder.

If you are struggling with insomnia, we are here to help. The Penn State Health Sleep Research and Treatment Center is one of the few sleep centers in the country that offer Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) treatments delivered by a board-certified sleep psychologist. We will determine the cause of your insomnia and create a treatment plan to help get you much-needed rest.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Many people struggle with insomnia at certain points in their life. Chronic insomnia disorder occurs when sleeplessness is perpetuated by physiologic factors (such as high-stress hormones), cognitive factors (worry about not sleeping) and behavioral factors (spending too much time awake in bed).

If you are experiencing persistent sleeping difficulties for multiple months, it is time to call the Penn State Sleep Research and Treatment Center for a sleep disorder evaluation.  

Symptoms of chronic insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Early morning awakening

Additional insomnia symptoms include:

  • Daytime fatigue 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety, worry
  • Depressed mood

If you are struggling with sleep issues, the expert team at Penn State Health will perform a comprehensive assessment to review your clinical history. We will also discuss your sleep patterns to evaluate if you have chronic insomnia and perform specific behavioral testing. Severe insomnia has been linked to high blood pressure, depression and other health complications.

To help us diagnose your insomnia, our sleep medicine team might recommend you wear an actigraph – a wristwatch-type device that records your at-home movements and sleep patterns. In specific cases, our team might recommend an overnight sleep study to give us an in-depth look at your sleep cycle.

With intervention, the prognosis for chronic insomnia is favorable. Nonmedication behavioral sleep medicine treatments are highly effective for improving nighttime sleep for chronic insomnia patients. For some patients, cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia (CBT-I) helps correct the problem, while for others, sleep medication is still necessary.

The sleep medicine team at Penn State Health is here to help find the most effective treatment combination to help you sleep at night.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Insomnia (CBT-I)

The Penn State Health Sleep Research and Treatment Center is one of only a handful of national institutions that offer Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) treatment options. Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Insomnia (CBT-I) is recommended as a first-line treatment for chronic insomnia by the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

CBT-I is a face-to-face, time-limited treatment with one of our board-certified sleep psychologists. During the treatment sessions, you will learn how to change your sleep and fatigue behaviors.

Effective Medical Management to Help You Sleep

The team at the Penn State Health Sleep Research and Treatment Center is here to help your insomnia. Our clinicians will work with you to find the right medication to help you fall asleep – and stay asleep. Medications like hypnotics and sedatives are used to treat chronic insomnia including the so-called “Z-drugs” (Zolpidem, Zaleplon), benzodiazepines (Temazepam) or sedative antidepressants (Trazodone, Doxepin).

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Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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