Insomnia is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or both despite adequate opportunity and time to sleep, leading to impaired daytime functioning. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. 

      Insomnia is very common. Ninety percent of the general population has experienced acute insomnia at least once. Approximately 10% of the population may suffer from chronic (long-standing) insomnia. Insomnia is more prevalent in our society than you may expect. 

      The problem affects people of all ages including children, although it is more common in adults and its frequency increases with age. In general, women are affected more frequently than men. As many one-third of adults are experiencing it in some form at any given moment. It can also affect children as well as teenagers. 

Types of Insomnia

  • Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like Asthma, Allergy,B.p) they are taking or a substance they are using (like alcohol).

Some other Types of Insomnia

  • Acute insomnia: A brief episode of difficulty sleeping. Acute insomnia is usually caused by a life event, such as a stressful change in a person’s job, receiving bad news, or travel. Often acute insomnia resolves without any treatment. This type of insomnia often goes away without any kind of treatment other than time and patience. It can last anywhere from one night to several weeks.
  • Chronic insomnia: A long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is usually considered chronic if a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights per week for three months or longer. Some people with chronic insomnia have a long-standing history of difficulty sleeping. Chronic insomnia has many causes. This insomnia can be caused by many things and often requires medical treatment to overcome. Some people struggle to keep control of this insomnia most of their lives and go through long periods of time where they experience extreme concerns about going to bed and or staying in bed.
  • Comorbid insomnia: Insomnia that occurs with another condition. Psychiatric symptoms  such as anxiety and depression are known to be associated with changes in sleep. Certain medical conditions can either cause insomnia or make a person uncomfortable at night (as in the case of arthritis or back pain, which may make it hard to sleep. When a person is uncomfortable either mentally or physically it can disrupt their natural sleep patterns, affecting their ability to rest properly.
  • Onset insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night. Many people are still wound up and mentally stimulated when they attempt to go to bed and this can cause onset insomnia, or difficulty beginning to sleep. This can develop into a long-term pattern over time without proper medical treatment
  • Maintenance insomnia: The inability to stay asleep. People with maintenance insomnia wake up during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep. This can also be caused by an overactive mind and stress.

Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Mood changes
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling tired upon waking
  • Waking up un refreshed from lack of sleep
  • Headache
  • Poor concentration and attention
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased errors and mistakes

Causes for insomnia:

Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors.  It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Emotional or physical discomfort
  • Unhealthy sleep habits
  • Environmental factors like noise, light or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
  • Getting caught up in thoughts about past events
  • Excessive worrying about future events
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux
  • Back pain
  • Some medications (Asthma, Allergy..ect)
  • Interferences in normal sleep schedule
  • Chronic stress
  • Injuries, Arthritis
  • Pain
  • Medications such as those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma and depression can also cause insomnia.
  • Tension
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities


There are treatment options for insomnia, ranging from behavioral therapy to the use of prescription medication or a combination of the two. You should seek help if your insomnia has become a pattern, or if you often feel fatigued or un refreshed during the day and it interferes with your daily life. Acute insomnia may not require treatment. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits.  Your doctor could refer you to a psychotherapist if your sleep struggles seem connected to anxiety, depression or a major life adjustment.

Chronic insomnia should be addressed by a medical professional who can give you a complete evaluation of the situation. Treatment for chronic insomnia includes first treating any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing the insomnia. If insomnia continues, your health care provider may suggest behavioral therapy.  If your doctor is knowledgeable about sleep disorders, he or she will guide you through the next steps. which may involve an assessment and further testing, or a referral to a sleep specialist.

Some other Precautions for Insomnia:

There are psychological and behavioral techniques that can be helpful for treating insomnia. 

  • Relaxation training or progressive muscle relaxation
  • Breathing exercise
  • Limit the use of electronic devices before bed. Especially cell phones and tablets
  • Mindfulness, meditation techniques, and guided imagery.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine near bedtime.
  • Listen to audio recordings.
  • Regular exercise will help you to sleep soundly.
  • Reading comic books.
  • Do not use your bed for anything other than sleep and sex.
  • Cognitive therapy which is conducted with a therapist who helps the patient with attitudes and beliefs that may contribute to poor sleep.
  • Make a relaxing routine that you follow each night.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and at a comfortable temperature for you.
  • Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. 

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