Insomnia and sleep deprivation are related, but not the same. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall, stay or get back to sleep if you wake up prematurely. Insomnia happens even though you try to sleep.
Most people only experience short-term (acute) insomnia. Symptoms include not feeling well-rested after a night of sleep, daytime tiredness, irritability, and difficulty paying attention and remembering. Usually, once you get a good night’s sleep, you feel better again and can function normally. However, some people may experience long-term (chronic) insomnia, lasting a month or more. Chronic (or intense acute) insomnia can lead to more disruptive health issues including a weakened immune system, inflammation, mental health issues, high blood pressure and sleep deprivation.
Contrary to how it’s treated in the media, sleep deprivation is not a normal part of everyday life. Sleep deprivation can occur when you don’t get enough sleep due to circumstance such as:
Night shift work.
Too much caffeine throughout the day.
Poor sleep habits (sleep hygiene).
High stress or trauma.
Flu and other short-term illnesses.
The initial symptoms of sleep deprivation mirror those of insomnia: fatigue, slowed reaction times, inattentiveness, irritability and brain fog. The CDC likens this state to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent (you are considered legally impaired at 0.08%). At Sovereign Urgent Care and Family Practice, we recommend staying off the road until you can take a nap or get a full night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, the longer you experience sleep deprivation, the more intense and disruptive your symptoms become. You may experience “microsleeps,” when you briefly fall asleep without knowing it; hand tremors; trouble speaking clearly; and impaired judgment. In severe instances (after about 72 hours with no sleep) it can even lead to sleep deprivation psychosis characterized by anxiety or depression, delusions, inability to perceive reality and significant hallucinations.
Regardless of how severe your symptoms or how long you’ve been experiencing them, you should seek help from your primary care doctor if insomnia or sleep deprivation are negatively impacting your quality of life. But there are also things you can do at home that may help you get better sleep.
But Can An Urgent Care Help?
Urgent care centers are typically designed to provide immediate medical attention for acute illnesses or injuries that require prompt attention but are not life-threatening. While sleep deprivation and insomnia are common health concerns, they are not typically considered medical emergencies that require urgent care.
That being said, some urgent care centers like Sovereign Urgent Care and Family Practice has medical professionals who can provide initial assessment and advice for individuals experiencing sleep deprivation or insomnia. However, it is important to note that urgent care centers may not have the resources or specialized equipment needed to fully diagnose or treat sleep disorders.
If you are experiencing ongoing issues with sleep deprivation or insomnia, it is recommended that you consult with one of our primary care physicians or a sleep specialist for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment plan. They may refer you to a sleep center for more in-depth testing or prescribe medications or therapy to help improve your sleep.