Stress and Insomnia

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that transient insomnias are very common. A night or two of insomnia may not be much of a problem for most people. But if insomnia persists for days and has an impact on the way you feel during the day, you should think about speaking to your doctor. Most doctors will turn to sleep aids for short-term insomnia. When judiciously used, medications can be very safe and highly effective in combination with the kind of behavioral program I've described. If the problem persists, you might need to turn to find a sleep professional.

What's the most important thing to know about insomnia?

A lot of people suffer from insomnia, and they say to themselves, "I know what this is, but I can't do anything about it." However, consider the toll insomnia takes on your life, the effect it has on your family, your ability to work at a high level, and to socialize with others. The consequences are so enormous that it's important to do something about it. It can be addressed through proper diagnosis and treatment. And if your physician can't help you, seek out an expert in sleep medicine. By all means, don't accept it as a necessary part of your life.

-- Neil B. Kavey, MD, is Director of the Sleep Disorders Center at The New York-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He has been practicing sleep medicine since 1973 .

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2001 issue of sleepmatters.

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