What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty:

  • Initially falling asleep.
  • Waking up during the night.
  • Waking earlier than desired.

What are the types of insomnia?

Insomnia can come and go, or it may be an ongoing, longstanding issue. There is short term insomnia and chronic insomnia:

  • Short term insomnia tends to last for a few days or weeks and is often triggered by stress.
  • Chronic insomnia is when the sleep difficulties occur at least three times a week for three months or longer.

How common is insomnia?

Sleep disorders are very common. They affect up to 70 million Americans every year.

Insomnia symptoms occur in approximately 33% to 50% of the adult population while Chronic Insomnia disorder that is associated with distress or impairment is estimated at 10% to 15%.

How much sleep do most people need?

Most adults need around seven to nine hours of sleep per night but the amount of sleep needed to function at your best varies between individuals. The quality of your rest matters just as much as the quantity. Tossing and turning and repeatedly awakening is as bad for your health as being unable to fall asleep.

What causes insomnia?

Many things can contribute to the development of insomnia including environmental, physiological and psychological factors, including:

  • Life stressors including your job, relationships, financial difficulties and more.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle and sleep habits.
  • Anxiety disorders, depression and/or other mental health problems.
  • Chronic diseases like cancer.
  • Chronic pain due to arthritis, fibromyalgia or other conditions.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, such as heartburn.
  • Hormone fluctuations due to menstruation, menopause, thyroid disease or other issues.
  • Medications and other substances.
  • Neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

What are the risk factors for insomnia?

Insomnia occurs more often in women than in men. Pregnancy and hormonal shifts can disturb sleep. Other hormonal changes, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menopause, can also can affect sleep. Insomnia becomes more common over the age of 60. Older people may be less likely to sleep soundly because of bodily changes related to aging and because they may have medical conditions or take medications that disturb sleep.

What are the consequences of insomnia?

When you can’t fall asleep or your rest is fitful, you may:

  • Be irritable, anxious or depressed.
  • Feel fatigued or low on energy throughout the day.
  • Have memory problems or difficulty concentrating.
  • Struggle at work, school or in relationships.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/15/2020.

References

  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Healthy Sleep Habits. Accessed 10/10/2020.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Insomnia. Accessed 10/10/2020.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Accessed 10/10/2020.
  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Insomnia. Accessed 10/10/2020.
  • Sleep Foundation. Insomnia. Accessed 10/10/2020.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Insomnia. Accessed 10/10/2020.

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