Sleep problems and sickle cell disease

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The most common sleep problem in teens and adults is insomnia (not being able to sleep). Learn more about what insomnia is and find out what causes it.

Key points

  • Insomnia is Latin for "no sleep" and is the most common sleep complaint.
  • Some of the signs of insomnia are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep and not feeling well rested in the morning.
  • Insomnia can be a short-term problem that is related to a specific stressful or disruptive event, or it can be a longer-term problem that continues over many nights.
  • Causes of insomnia include pain, poor sleep habits and having negative thoughts about sleep.

Sometimes, even people with healthy sleep habits have specific sleep problems.

You have probably heard the word "insomnia" before. Insomnia is Latin and means "no sleep". It is the most common sleep complaint in teens and adults.

A person has symptoms of insomnia if they:

  • find it difficult to fall asleep
  • cannot stay asleep
  • wake up too early and cannot get back to sleep
  • don’t feel well rested in the morning
  • feel that poor sleep is causing problems during the day

Almost everyone experiences insomnia now and then. For example, maybe you’ve had problems falling asleep before an important exam or when you are in the hospital.

Insomnia can sometimes just be a short-term problem that is related to a specific stressful or disruptive event in your life (like being in the hospital). But it can also be a chronic (longer-term) problem that continues over many nights.

What can cause insomnia?

  • Insomnia can have a few causes. A person with pain may start experiencing it because their pain makes it hard to get comfortable enough to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • A person may also have insomnia because of poor sleep habits such as spending too much time in bed, napping during the day or not having a regular bedtime and wake time. This can make it harder for them to feel tired enough to fall asleep or sleep through the night.
  • A person may also have insomnia because of negative thoughts about sleep, such as, "I will never be able to fall asleep tonight". These thoughts can keep them from being able to settle to sleep easily.

For more information about insomnia and approaches that can help with it, please see the optional Insomnia module. The relaxation methods you learned in the Relaxation module can also be helpful.

Last updated: January 4th 2024