Conditions InDepth: Insomnia
is defined as inadequate or poor-quality sleep despite having adequate time to sleep. Insomnia may take the form of difficulty falling asleep, or middle-of-the-night or early-morning awakening. It may be a short-term problem or occur more often over a long period of time.
Over the course of a year, about one third of adults experience some level of insomnia. About 10%-15% have more severe or chronic insomnia. It may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.
Insomnia is not a disease. Instead, it is a result of a behavior or a symptom of an underlying mental or physical problem. There are many causes of insomnia.
Short-term insomnia is often due to temporary situations. It generally occurs in people who are experiencing one or more of the following:
- A life crisis or stress
- A change in the sleep environment, including factors such as noise, light, or temperature
- Sleep/wake schedule problems, such as those due to jet lag or temporary shift work
- Side effects of medication
Chronic insomnia often results from a medical condition. They may include:
Chronic insomnia may also be due to behavioral factors. These include:
, or other substances
- Disrupted sleep/wake cycles from shift work or other nighttime activity schedules
- Chronic stress
For some people, insomnia is aggravated by:
What are the risk factors for insomnia?What are the symptoms of insomnia?How is insomnia diagnosed?What are the treatments for insomnia?Are there screening tests for insomnia?How can I reduce my risk of insomnia?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with insomnia?Where can I get more information about insomnia?
- Expecting to have difficulty sleeping and worrying about it
- Excessive napping in the afternoon or evening
Can't Sleep? What to know about insomnia.
National Sleep Foundation
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Insomnia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated April 11, 2013. Accessed May 15, 2013.
Insomnia. Quick Answers to Medical Diagnosis and Therapy. Access Medicine website. Available at:
Accessed May 15, 2013
Parmet S, Burke A, Glass RM. Insomnia.
JAMA Patient Page
. 2006 June 28.295(24).
What is insomnia?
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
website. Available at:
. Updated December 13, 2011. Accessed May 15, 2013.