Insomnia is a common condition in which patients have trouble falling or staying asleep. Insomnia can be chronic (ongoing) or acute (short-term). Chronic insomnia means having symptoms at least 3 nights a week for more than a month. Insomnia that lasts for less time is acute insomnia. One in 3 adults has insomnia sometimes. One in 10 adults has chronic insomnia. Insomnia results in too little sleep or poor-quality sleep that may not lead to feeling refreshed when you wake up.
There are two types of insomnia. The most common type is secondary insomnia. This type of insomnia is a symptom or side effect of an emotional, neurological, or other medical or sleep disorder. Secondary insomnia also may result from using certain medicines or substances, such as caffeine.
Primary insomnia isn’t a symptom or side effect of another medical condition. A number of life changes can trigger primary insomnia, such as long-lasting stress or emotional upset. Even if these issues are resolved, the insomnia might not go away.
Lifestyle changes often can help relieve acute insomnia. These changes may make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Lifestyle changes include avoiding substances that make insomnia worse, adopting good bedtime habits, and going to sleep and waking up around the same time each day.
A type of counseling called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic insomnia. CBT targets the thoughts and actions that can disrupt sleep and uses several methods to relieve sleep anxiety.
Medicines also are used to treat insomnia.