Can you sleep through insomnia?

Is It Possible To Sleep Through Insomnia?


YOU know you’ve been awake for hours, but you dare not check the little electronic numbers on your bedside clock for fear of inducing a wave of panic.

You don’t need to look anyway, because you know exactly what they will say: “It’s early in the morning and you will be exhausted tomorrow.”

Your partner’s snores are usually a mere irritant, but in that quiet, liminal world of insomnia they take on a horrific, maddening dimension. Why can everyone else sleep except you?

If these mental roundabouts sound familiar, then take heart: you are most definitely not alone.

In homes across the state, there are plenty of Victorians burning the midnight oil, not because they have a herculean-like stamina, but because they are at war with their desperately tired bodies that refuse to drift off to sleep.

So, what exactly is insomnia? And how do you know if you have it or are just going through a phase?

Insomnia is defined in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep or having non-restorative sleep (despite opportunity for sleep), together with associated impairment of daytime functioning, with symptoms being present for at least four weeks.

Dr David Cunnington, Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre director, differentiates between two types: acute and the less-common chronic iteration.

“Acute insomnia is where there are a certain set of circumstances that are causing sleeplessness, such as stress or illness, and this could last for a few days, sometimes a few weeks, but after that it passes,” Cunnington says.


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