CareNow® - May 04, 2022

Can urgent care treat insomnia?

It is recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night to maintain good health; however, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 35% of American adults suffer from sleep deprivation.

In fact, up to 40% of adults report they’ve accidentally fallen asleep during the day due to lack of sleep the night before. This type of sleep deprivation can cause a number of serious consequences such as falling asleep while driving or while caring for a young child — in addition to the numerous health risks.

So what exactly causes insomnia and when should you seek medical attention for it? We’re giving you a thorough breakdown and sharing tips for getting to sleep quicker.

Is sleep deprivation an emergency?

When you don’t get the recommended amount of sleep over an extended period of time, it can lead to serious health issues. These issues can include increased inflammation, reduce immune function, and poor cognitive function. Long-term sleep deprivation can also result in an increased risk of chronic disease.

Short bouts of sleep deprivation aren’t considered a cause for concern. For example, if you skip a night of sleep, you won’t experience any major health problems. However, once you’ve missed sleep for 48 hours, you may begin to experience hallucinations where you start to see, hear or feel things that aren’t actually there.

While this isn’t considered an emergency, it can cause you to do things that could harm you. For instance, more extreme sleep deprivation can lead to disordered thinking that can force you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make.

What are the stages of insomnia?

Although there’s not a universal timeline for sleep deprivation, most doctors will separate the stages by 24 hours. In each stage, the symptoms of sleep deprivation progress.

24 hours of sleep deprivation

If you’ve missed sleep for a full day, you will likely feel tired and groggy. The CDC compares this to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent, which is higher than the legal limit to drive. If you’ve been up for 24 hours, it’s a good idea to stay off the roads until you’re able to get a nap or a full night’s rest.

Other symptoms of being up for 24 hours include:

  • Anger/irritability
  • Fatigue/drowsiness
  • Brain fog
  • Tremors
  • Decreased alertness/impaired concentration
  • Reduced coordination

36 hours of sleep deprivation

You will notice your symptoms intensify after you’ve missed 36 hours of sleep. You may start to experience something called microsleeps, which are brief periods of sleep that you aren’t even aware is happening. These periods usually last 30 seconds.

Your brain will begin to have trouble communicating with its other parts as well, which can result in symptoms like:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Slow reaction time
  • Impaired memory & decision-making
  • Trouble taking in new information
  • Increased errors
  • Extreme fatigue

48 hours of sleep deprivation

By 48 hours, you’re experiencing extreme sleep deprivation and likely having even more microsleeps. This is the time when hallucinations can begin as well. Other impacts of this level of deprivation include heightened stress levels, anxiety and depersonalization.

72 hours of sleep deprivation

When you hit 3 days of sleep loss, you will start experiencing longer, more frequent microsleeps paired with illusions, delusions, depersonalization and disordered thinking.

92 hours of sleep deprivation

After 4 days of sleep deprivation, your body and mind will be severely impacted and you may feel an unbearable urge for sleep. You’re at risk of falling into sleep deprivation psychosis, which occurs when you’re unable to interpret reality. Fortunately, this goes away once you’re able to sleep again.

How do doctors diagnose insomnia?

Depending on the severity of your insomnia, a diagnosis may include a physical exam, review of your sleep habits or even a sleep study. In some cases, a blood test may be recommended so your doctor can check for other medical conditions like thyroid problems.

Can fevers cause insomnia?

Fever in itself will not cause insomnia; however, you may struggle to fall asleep due to other symptoms of an illness. On the other hand, if you’re already suffering from insomnia and aren’t sleeping well, it can make you more susceptible to illnesses that can cause fever.

Who do you see for insomnia?

A general physician can help you diagnose and treat insomnia. An urgent care facility like CareNow® is a great place to seek treatment for difficulty sleeping.

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The doctor will want to know more about your health history and symptoms and, in some cases, may even recommend you to a specialist who can conduct a sleep study. Other specialists may include a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or an alternative medicine practitioner.

How is insomnia treated?

Treatment for insomnia often comes down to changing your sleep habits and figuring out if there are any medical or mental concerns that could be leading to your sleep deprivation.

If you’re suffering from short-term insomnia, your doctor may prescribe you sleeping pills that can help you get to sleep or stay asleep. Typically, doctors don’t recommend you stay on prescription sleeping pills for longer than a few weeks.

You can also practice a few things at home that may help you get better sleep, including:

  • Getting into a good sleep routine
  • Staying physically active
  • Monitoring your medications
  • Limiting naps during the day
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Staying away from screens right before bed

If you believe you’re dealing with insomnia or some form of sleep deprivation, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor who can get you set up with a treatment plan that’s right for you.

At CareNow®, our physicians are ready to provide you with the convenience and quality care that you deserve. We’ve got more than 175 locations around the country, with each location open after hours and on the weekends.

We’re also proud to have earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA).

Before your visit, be sure to use our Web Check-In® feature to avoid the waiting room!

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