What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a disorder that affects one’s sleep. Insomnia may make it difficult for one to fall asleep or stay asleep. It also may cause one to wake up too early or in the middle of the night and be unable to fall back asleep. People with insomnia do not typically feel well rested when they wake up and may be tired throughout the day. 
Constantly feeling tired can be frustrating and affect one’s mood and ability to concentrate. It may also have negative health effects. Insomnia has many different potential causes and is most often considered a symptom rather than a diagnosable disease. In cases of primary insomnia, however, one is suffering from insomnia that is not associated with any other condition. In secondary insomnia, one is suffering from insomnia due to another condition. It affects everyone differently and the amount of sleep one obtains may vary from person to person. A sufficient amount of sleep for most adults is 7-8 hours per night. 
  • Acute insomnia is more short term insomnia that may last days or weeks. It can be due to stress or some sort of traumatic experience. Most adults will suffer from acute insomnia at some point in their lives. 
  • Chronic insomnia sufferers experience insomnia for a month or longer. In cases of chronic insomnia, it may be associated with another medical condition or it could be the primary problem.
Risk factors
  • Gender: Women more commonly suffer from insomnia, which may be due to hormonal shifts in one’s menstrual cycle and/or menopause.
  • Pregnancy
  • Being over age 60
  • Stress
  • Not having a regular schedule such as having an unusual or change in one’s work shift or traveling. 
Diagnosis of insomnia will often involve explaining your sleep habits and difficulties to your doctor. If you and your doctor think you are suffering from insomnia, the next step will likely be searching for the cause. Seeing a sleep medicine specialist may be necessary. Your doctor will also likely look at your past medical history and perform a physical exam. 
Potential tests that may be done to diagnose/find the cause of one’s insomnia include:
  • Blood tests to look for potential causes of insomnia such as thyroid problems. 
  • A sleep habits review may involve one answering a questionnaire regarding their sleep-wake pattern and day time tiredness. People may be asked to keep a sleep diary. 
  • A sleep study involves having the person stay for one night at a sleep center to monitor and record body activities such, as brain waves, breathing, heartbeat, eye and body movements while asleep.
There are many different types of solutions for insomnia and treatment may vary depending on the cause. 
Possible solutions/treatments for insomnia include:
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Reducing stress
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Changing one’s sleep habits
  • Prescription sleeping pills
  • Over the counter sleep aides
  • Alternative medicine
  • Treating/managing any condition or disease that may be causing the insomnia
  • The National Institutes of Health estimate that about 30% of the general population suffer from sleep disturbance and 10% suffer from impairment of their daily functions due to insomnia. 
  • Approximately 1 in 3 adults suffer from bouts of insomnia that last a few days at a time. 
  • About 1 in 10 adults suffer from chronic insomnia (more than 3 nights a week for over a month).
about insomnia

  • "Insomnia." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
  • "Insomnia." Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2017.
  • “What Is Insomnia?” National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2017. 
  • “Insomnia: Causes, symptoms, and treatments.” Healthline Media. MedicalNewsToday, 20 Jul. 2017. Web. 18. Oct. 2017. 
  • “Insomnia.” The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Cleveland Clinic, 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2017. 


Lack of sleep can often cause you to feel grumpy and drowsy. When lack of sleep becomes a consistent problem, there may be negative physical and cognitive effects. These effects can be very dangerous and harmful to normal every-day-activities.
not enough sleep - physical & cognitive effects


NOTE: The information on this page and any information found on healtheo360 is not a substitution for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, CALL 911 immediately. See additional information about our Terms & Conditions.