Chronic and Acute Insomnia: Causes and Symptoms

Insomnia is a particular type of sleep disorder which is characterised by trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Insomnia can affect anyone regardless of age but it is more common in adult women compared to adult men. The condition usually results to poor performance at school or work, weight gain, anxiety, depression, weak immune system and increased risk and severity of disease.

2 Types of Insomnia

Primary Insomnia – the sleep problem is not directly related to any health problems or health issues.

Secondary Insomnia – the sleep problem is triggered by something else including a health problem like arthritis, joint pain, bad backs, depression, cancer, etc.

Chronic and Acute Insomnia

It is also classified depending on how often it occurs and how long it lasts. When it is just in the short-term, it is called acute insomnia but when it is continuing, the condition is considered chronic.

It may also relapse with periods when the sufferer has no problem sleeping and staying asleep. When the problem persists, often times from a night to few weeks, it is considered acute insomnia. But when the problem occurs for a minimum of three nights per week and extends to about a month or more, then it is already considered chronic insomnia.

Causes of Insomnia

There are different causes of acute and chronic insomnia. The causes of acute insomnia include stress, illness, physical or emotional discomfort, environmental factors (light, noise, hot or cold temperatures), medication and interference with normal sleep pattern (change in time zone/ jet lag, change in work schedule, etc.). The cause of chronic insomnia includes anxiety, depression, chronic stress, disease, pain and discomfort.

Symptoms of Insomnia

To determine if you are suffering from insomnia, let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of the sleep disorder. This includes difficulty in falling asleep at night, awakening during the night, waking up earlier than the desired time, feeling tired even after sleeping, daytime sleepiness and fatigue, irritability, poor focus and concentration, tension headaches, worrying about sleeping and becoming uncoordinated. If you are experiencing one or more of these signs and symptoms and believe you are suffering from insomnia, you need to consult your doctor or a sleep specialist if possible.

How is Insomnia Diagnosed?

Sleep specialists usually start the diagnosis process with questions regarding the patient’s medical history and sleep patterns. A physical examination usually follows to determine if there is an underlying condition causing insomnia. Physicians also usually screen for psychiatric problems and drug or/and alcohol abuse. Sleep specialists also request the patient to keep a sleeping diary for some time. A special test called the polysomnograph is also available. This is an overnight sleep test that records the sleep pattern of the patient. Actigraphy can also be conducted for measuring movement and patterns in sleeping and waking up.


Insomnia can wreak havoc in a person’s life. This is why it is important to determine of you are suffering from this problem quickly. This way, you will be able to treat the problem immediately and get your life back to normal.