Diseases

Insomnia

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).

Insomnia may be both a sleep symptom or a sleep disorder that is characterized by decreased sleep quantity and quality despite an adequate amount of time in bed. 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

and associated with daytime fatigue.

Insomnia is usually first evaluated based on duration:

  • Acute Insomnia: This type of transient insomnia lasts for several nights up to three weeks and goes away on its on without treatment. 
  • Chronic Insomnia: Insomnia that lasts more than three weeks is classified as chronic insomnia. Nearly 1 in 10 people have chronic insomnia, which often requires some form of treatment to go away.

Subsequently, Chronic Insomnia may be classified as:

  • 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 (also called Co-Morbid 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).

Initial evaluation may be best through your primary care provider to exclude medications and other medical problems causing or perpetuating insomnia.