Insomnia

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Types of Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Most cases of insomnia are related to poor sleep habits, depression, anxiety, lack of exercise, chronic illness, or certain medications. Symptoms may include difficulty falling or staying asleep and not feeling well-rested. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:


  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night
  • Having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Feeling tired upon waking

There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.


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  • Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia is when a person is having sleep problems not associated with any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia is when a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition ie. asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (ie. alcohol).

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Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia also varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. It can be short-term (acute insomnia) or can last a long time (chronic insomnia). It can also come and go, with periods of time when a person has no sleep problems. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer.


Causes of acute insomnia can include:


  • Significant life stress (job loss or change, moving)
  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Illness
  • Emotional or physical discomfort
  • Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures that interfere with sleep
  • Some medications may interfere with sleep (ie. colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma)
  • Jet lag
  • Switching from a day to night shift or vice versa

Causes of chronic insomnia include: