01/27/2012 11:53 am ET

5 Tips For Battling Idiopathic Insomnia

Idiopathic insomnia is an uncommon sleep disorder which affects would-be sleepers from across all demographics. We spoke to Subin Jain, M.D., a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Ky., for one approach to the medical problems you or your loved one may suffer from when trying to sleep.

If you think you might have cataplexy, use this as a reference point before getting personalized medical advice from your doctor or other accredited sleep expert. --Tracie Handley

"Basically, insomnia means the inability to sleep," says Dr. Jain, "and it can refer to difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep or difficulty with an earlier wake time, or a combination of these." He explains that the label "idiopathic" indicates an inability to sleep for unknown reasons.

Get A Professional Assessment

Dr. Jain recommends that people seek a professional assessment. "Idiopathic insomnia can be a real challenge to take care of sometimes," he says. "So besides sleep specialists, psychologists and behavioral therapists are tremendously helpful in treating and managing idiopathic insomnia."

Make Your Sleep Routine Relaxing

Dr. Jain advises his patients to try taking warm baths or performing other relaxing activities at bedtime. "Also," he adds, "Make sure your bed is very comfortable. This is where behavioral therapists can be very helpful. They can teach you techniques to help you fall asleep and to stay asleep."

Limit Bright Light

"The patient must remove or strictly limit bright light in the bedroom," says Dr. Jain. "That means no bright lights overhead or by the bed, no televisions, no computers, nothing that gives off light and is stimulating in any way."

Make Your Bedroom Peaceful And Quiet

"Make sure it's not bright in your room and that the temperature is comfortable," Dr. Jain advises. "There should be no loud noises, no large, ticking clocks or giant alarm clocks that are staring you in the face and telling you how long you've been awake. "

Maintain A Strict Sleep Schedule

"With idiopathic insomnia, it is important to maintain a strict sleep time and a strict awake time and stick to a sleep schedule," says Dr. Jain. "These are not people who can sort of sleep early one day and sleep late the next day," he explains, adding that they often have difficulty getting the adequate eight hours of sleep at night. "The most we can hope for from these patients is to consolidate their sleep to four or six hours a night, and with paying strict attention to their sleep hygiene, they're often successful."

Subin Jain, M.D., is a board-certified specialist in pulmonary medicine, sleep medicine, internal medicine and critical care medicine. He is a physician at the Sleep Disorders Center at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, Ky. A graduate of Maulana Azad Medical College at the University of Delhi, Dr. Jain completed residency and fellowships at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the University of Connecticut, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Have you ever suffered from a sleep disorder?