Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
Difficulty falling asleep
Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
Waking up too early in the morning
Feeling tired upon waking
Types of Insomnia
There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary 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, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).
Acute vs. Chronic Insomnia
Insomnia also varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. It can be short-term (acute insomnia) or can last a long time (chronic insomnia). It can also come and go, with periods of time when a person has no sleep problems. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
Causes of Insomnia
Causes of acute insomnia can include:
Significant life stress (job loss or change, the death of a loved one, divorce, moving)
Emotional or physical discomfort
Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep
Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example)
Causes of chronic insomnia include:
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Chronic stress
- Pain or discomfort at night
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
- Sleepiness during the day
- General tiredness
- Problems with concentration or memory.
Complications of insomnia:
Not getting enough sleep can take a toll on your health. Insomnia can increase your risk for a number of conditions including:
- Asthma attacks.
- Weak immune system.
- Diabetes mellitus.
- High blood pressure.
- Heart disease.
Insomnia can also:
- Increase your risk for an accident.
- Affect your performance at school or work.
- Lower your sex drive.
- Affect your memory.