What is Idiopathic Insomnia?

What is Idiopathic Insomnia?

Idiopathic insomnia - the reason you can never sleep?

Hello there! I am Kitty Deschanel, blogger of sexy (nerd) adventuresHere on my site, I often write about all things sleep. It's the perfect topic for me because I never sleep well. No, not even as a baby. My family was understandably baffled!

Oh, I've tried it all. Meditation, forgoing caffeine entirely, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, herbal tea, prescription sleep aids, relaxing bedtime music, evening sauna sessions, and even funny-looking yellow goggles to block out slumber-disrupting blue light.

I've consulted with the best sleep doctors in New Mexico. I've undergone an extensive overnight sleep study in a sleep lab, wired to the point of ridiculousness. Take a look for yourself.

Sleep Study to Diagnose Idiopathic Insomnia

What is Idiopathic Insomnia?
 Behold, Kitty Deschanel, the human Christmas tree. The sleep study doesn't hurt, but the glue they use to hold the billion sensors on sure does. Ouch!

What did all these tests and sleep experts reveal?

They revealed absolutely...nothing. There is apparently no medical cause behind my chronic lack of sleep. Hence the fun (yay!) diagnosis of Idiopathic Insomnia.

Idiopathic Insomnia

Whenever I tell someone I have idiopathic insomnia, I get one of two responses:

1. A lecture on improving my sleep hygiene (cut out caffeine, exercise more, follow a set sleep schedule, don't nap, take melatonin, reduce screen time, etc. - been there, tried that!) 

2. "You are an idiopath!" (idiopathic actually means "a disorder with an unknown cause")(and on a side note, I've apparently been hanging out with mean people)

Despite this being a problem I've had my entire life, people are always surprised when I say I didn't sleep well the previous night. They are especially surprised when I answer How did you sleep last night? the same way day after day - poorly or not at all.

Facts about Idiopathic Insomnia

In an attempt to clear up some of the confusion, here are 4 facts on idiopathic insomnia, straight from The American Sleep Association:
  1. It is known that idiopathic insomnia exists without the detectable presence of other sleeping disorders, medical problems, medication or substance use or abuse, any underlying behavioral problems that could cause poor or unfulfilling sleep, and any psychiatric disorders.
  2. It is not the result of poor sleep hygiene. 
  3. Idiopathic insomnia often occurs nightly, and may include short sleeping times, numerous nighttime awakenings that cannot be explained, and difficulty falling asleep even when the body feels sufficiently tired to do so. 
  4. This happens without the presence of any stress that may cause a similar scenario in others, no psychological or neurological disorders, and no medication or substance use.
If this sounds all-too-familiar to you, I feel your pain. Check with a doctor to determine if Idiopathic Insomnia might be keeping you awake at night. Although there is not a cure, there are steps you can take to minimize your sleep disturbance. 

For myself, I've found it beneficial to practice good sleep hygiene. It's not a cure, but it's better than nothing. The most beneficial things, for me, are sticking to a set bedtime, no caffeine or alcohol in the evening, a dark and cool bedroom of around 65 degrees, and to invest in the proper tools to help me sleep better, including a new Amerisleep AS3 mattress, the right memory foam pillow for my sleeping position, and blackout curtains.

Together with a health care professional, you can create a plan that works well for your individual situation.

Can't sleep? It might be Idiopathic Insomnia.
If you know someone who may benefit from this idiopathic insomnia post, please share it. Thank you.