What Is Short Term Insomnia & How Can You Tell If You Have It?
Sometimes, life is hard and it makes falling asleep even harder. It might seem like there aren’t enough sleep meditations, CBD tinctures, or weighted blankets to calm your mind and lull you to sleep each night. Because of that, you can be stressed! But does being unable to sleep mean you have insomnia? Or could this just be a phase? Technically, there is such a thing as short-term or “acute” insomnia. It’s defined as a brief period of difficulty sleeping, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Short term insomnia can last for a matter of days or weeks, but usually is no longer than 30 days.
Although it’s short-lived, it can be pretty miserable. Short-term insomnia can usually be traced to a stressful life event . That might be receiving bad news about your job, learning that a family member is sick, coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster, or grieving the loss of a loved one. This stress can make it harder to fall or stay asleep, which leads to poorer sleep quality. As a result, you may feel tired and groggy during the day, or have difficulty focusing when you are awake. In some cases, insomnia can also lead to anxiety and depression — so it’s a vicious cycle.
The good news is that short-term insomnia usually goes away without treatment, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Once whatever event or situation is keeping you awake at night passes or resolves, and you’re feeling less anxious and stressed. It can make it easier to fall asleep each night. In the meantime if you find yourself tossing and turning, you might find that making simple lifestyle changes. I’m talking about things like putting down your phone before bed or getting a grip on your sleep hygiene (by setting consistent bedtimes) helps, too, according to the NIH.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One strategy that we know works wonderfully for treating acute and chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy. During CBT for insomnia, a therapist would help you re-frame the thoughts and worries you have that keep you awake. These would include the ones you have about your ability to fall asleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. It sounds so simple, but it works! A 2015 study found that just one session of CBT is sufficient for many to treat acute insomnia.
So, if you are in a rough patch of sleep and are getting more and more discouraged by your ability to snooze, perhaps it’s important to remember that this — and all the stressful events keeping you up at night — this too shall pass.