Insomnia Key Points

  •  Insomnia is a common condition in which you have trouble falling or staying asleep. The condition can range from mild to severe, depending on how often it occurs and for how long.
  • Insomnia can be chronic (ongoing) or acute (short-term). Chronic insomnia means having symptoms at least 3 nights a week for more than a month. Insomnia that lasts for less time is acute insomnia.
  • Insomnia causes you to get too little sleep or poor-quality sleep that may not leave you feeling refreshed when you wake up.
  • There are two types of insomnia. The most common type is secondary insomnia. This type of insomnia is a symptom or side effect of an emotional, neurological, or other medical or sleep disorder. Secondary insomnia also may result from using certain medicines or substances, such as caffeine.
  • Primary insomnia isn't a symptom or side effect of another medical condition. It is its own disorder. A number of life changes can trigger primary insomnia, such as long-lasting stress or emotional upset. Even if these issues are resolved, the insomnia might not go away.
  • Insomnia is a common disorder. One in 3 adults has insomnia sometimes. One in 10 adults has chronic insomnia.
  • The main symptom of insomnia is trouble falling and/or staying asleep, which leads to a lack of sleep. The lack of sleep can cause other symptoms, such as trouble focusing, anxiety, depression, and irritability.
  • Usually, your doctor will diagnose insomnia based on your medical and sleep histories and a physical exam. He or she also may recommend a sleep study.
  • Lifestyle changes often can help relieve acute insomnia. These changes may make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Lifestyle changes include avoiding substances that make insomnia worse, adopting good bedtime habits, and going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day.
  • A type of counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic insomnia. CBT targets the thoughts and actions that can disrupt sleep and uses several methods to relieve sleep anxiety.
  • Medicines also are used to treat insomnia. Some medicines are meant for short-term use, while others are meant for longer use. Side effects can occur, so talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using medicines to treat insomnia.
  • Also, talk to your doctor before taking over-the-counter (OTC) products to treat insomnia. These products may pose risks for some people. Your doctor can advise you whether OTC products will benefit you.


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