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Insomnia Symptoms, Causes, Remedies, and Cures

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Insomnia definition and facts

  • Insomnia is a condition characterized by poor quality and/or quantity of sleep, despite adequate opportunity to sleep, which leads to daytime functional impairment.
  • Many diseases, syndromes, and psychiatric conditions may be responsible for causing insomnia.
  • Some common signs and symptoms of include:
  • Sometimes insomnia may be unrelated to any underlying condition.
  • There are several useful non-medical behavioral techniques available for treating the problem.
  • Medications are widely used to treat insomnia in conjunction with non-medical strategies.
  • Sleep specialists are  doctors who can play an important role in evaluating and treating long-standing (chronic) insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both, despite adequate opportunity and time to sleep, leading to impaired daytime functioning. Insomnia may be a cause of or result of poor quality and/or quantity of sleep.

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.

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.

3 classes of insomnia based on the duration of symptoms and signs

Insomnia may be divided into three classes based on the duration of symptoms.
  • Transient insomnia: lasts one week or less and may be termed transient insomnia
  • Short-term insomnia: lasts more than one week but resolves in less than three weeks
  • Long-term or chronic insomnia lasts more than three weeks.

Insomnia can also be classified based on the underlying reasons for insomnia, for example:

  • Sleep hygiene
  • Existing health problems or other diseases
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress factors

It's important to make a distinction between insomnia and other similar terminology; short duration sleep and sleep deprivation.

  • Short duration sleep may be normal in some patients who may require less time for sleep without feeling daytime impairment, the central symptom in the definition of insomnia.
  • Sleep deprivation: In insomnia, adequate time and opportunity for sleep is available, whereas in sleep deprivation, lack of sleep is due to lack of opportunity or time to sleep because of voluntary or intentional avoidance of sleep.

Signs and symptoms of insomnia

Impairment of daytime functioning is the defining and the most common symptom of insomnia.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Mood changes
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Poor social function
  • Headaches
  • Increased errors and mistakes

Who gets insomnia?

There are no specific risk factors for insomnia because of the variety of underlying causes that may lead to insomnia. The medical and psychiatric conditions listed earlier may be considered risk factors for insomnia if untreated or difficult to treat. Some of the emotional and environmental situations that were also mentioned above may act as risk factor for insomnia.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/19/2017


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