Insomnia – An Explanation of Insomnia

Insomnia is too little or poor-quality sleep caused by one or more of the following:

Trouble falling asleep

Waking up a lot during the night with trouble returning to sleep

Waking up too early in the morning

Having un-refreshing sleep (not feeling well rested), even after sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night

Insomnia can cause problems during the day, such as excessive sleepiness, fatigue, trouble thinking clearly or staying focused, or feeling depressed or irritable.

What are the different types of insomnia and what causes them?

Insomnia can be:

Transient (short term) insomnia lasts from a single night to a few weeks.

Intermittent (on and off) insomnia is short term, which happens from time to time.

Chronic (on-going) insomnia occurs at least 3 nights a week over a month or more.

Chronic insomnia is either primary or secondary:

Primary insomnia is not related to any other health problem.

Secondary insomnia can be caused by a medical condition (such as cancer, asthma, or arthritis), drugs, stress or a mental health problem (such as depression), or a poor sleep environment (such as too much light or noise, or a bed partner who snores)


Treatment of insomnia includes alleviating any physical and emotional problems that are contributing to the condition and exploring changes in lifestyle that will improve the situation. Call your health provider if: A sleeping problem becomes persistent and unbearable, despite home treatment A sleeping problem occurs more than 3 nights per week for more than 1 month The insomnia is accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. Sufficient evidence does not exist to support over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids as an effective treatment for insomnia. There are some prescription medications that treat insomnia but, the problem with these are they are habit forming and may cause next day drowsiness and short term memory loss.