What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition that can be quite complicated. It is a chronic sleep condition that makes it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep for any prolonged period of time. This condition occurs even when a person has the opportunity for a restful night’s sleep.

There are two types of insomnia

  • The first is acute insomnia which means the person is not able to sleep at all or well for a relatively brief period of time. Most adults and even some children will experience a bout of acute insomnia at some point in their life. The causes of acute insomnia are often stress and life events like the illness or death of a loved one, trouble at work, or a big test or exam.
  • Chronic insomnia, on the other hand, is more enduring. This is a condition that is defined by occurring at least three nights per week and lasting for a minimum of three months. When a person suffers from chronic insomnia, there are numerous potential causes. Unhealthy sleeping habits are a possible cause and working certain shifts (like overnights or shifts that go until late at night), or other health conditions can also be related to chronic insomnia.

What are the Symptoms of Insomnia?

Along with having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, people with insomnia also suffer from many other symptoms.

Symptoms include

A feeling of fogginess throughout the day, difficulty concentrating, tiredness, and memory issues. A person with insomnia may also seem unusually irritable and may be sleepy during the day or doze off at inappropriate times like at work or school.

How is Insomnia Treated?

Acute insomnia may resolve on its own without treatment.

Treatments include

Temporary use of over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids may be helpful. Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga as well as healthy sleeping habits can also be effective at resolving acute insomnia. Chronic insomnia may require more extensive treatment. Behavioral or cognitive-behavioral therapy might help to determine any mental health issues that could be causing chronic insomnia. If another physical health condition is causing the person’s insomnia, that condition needs to be treated in order for the insomnia to be resolved.

Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017