What Is Insomnia?

According to guidelines from a physician group, insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience 1 or more of the following: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.

Insomnia may be characterized based on its duration. Acute insomnia is brief and often happens because of life circumstances (for example, when you can't fall asleep the night before an exam, or after receiving stressful or bad news). Many people may have experienced this type of passing sleep disruption, and it tends to resolve without any treatment.

Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least 3 nights per week and lasts at least 3 months. Chronic insomnia disorders can have many causes. Changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, shift work, other clinical disorders, and certain medications could lead to a long-term pattern of insufficient sleep. People with chronic insomnia may benefit from some form of treatment to help them get back to healthy sleep patterns. Chronic insomnia can be comorbid, meaning it is linked to another medical or psychiatric issue, although sometimes it's difficult to understand this cause and effect relationship.

People with insomnia tend to have difficulty falling asleep (onset), staying asleep (maintenance), and/or they wake up too early in the morning. Treatment for insomnia can include behavioral, psychological, medical components or some combination thereof. You and your doctor will need to talk about your particular situation and history of insomnia, as well as its causes, to decide on the best treatment plan.

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