Insomnia is a sleeping disorder characterized by the inability to fall asleep and/or the inability to remain asleep for a reasonable amount of time. Insomniacs have been known to complain about being unable to close their eyes or “rest their mind” for more than a few minutes at a time. Both organic and non-organic insomnia constitute a sleep disorder.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men.
At least three types of insomnia exist: transient, acute, and chronic.
1. Transient insomnia lasts from one night to a few weeks. Most people occasionally suffer from transient insomnia due to such causes as jet lag or short-term anxiety. If this form of insomnia continues to occur from time to time, the insomnia is classified as intermittent.
2. Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of between three weeks to six months.
3. Chronic insomnia is regarded as the most serious; persists almost nightly for at least a month.
A common misperception is that the amount of sleep a person requires decreases as he or she ages. The ability to sleep for long periods, rather than the need for sleep, appears to be lost as people get older. Some elderly insomniacs toss and turn in bed and occasionally fall off the bed at night, diminishing the amount of sleep they receive. An overactive mind or physical pain may also be causes. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it. Insomnia can be common after the loss of a loved one, even years or decades after the death, if they have not gone through the grieving process.