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What Is Insomnia?

by | Oct 10, 2022

When you go to bed, does it take you half the night to fall asleep? If this happens on a regular basis, then you likely have some degree of insomnia, and you’re not alone. Learn about insomnia, what it is, why it happens, and what you can do about it.

The Definition of Insomnia

Insomnia is a disorder in which people have a hard time falling asleep. However, this isn’t the limit of the definition. If you wake up multiple times during the night and/or have trouble going back to sleep, then you also have insomnia.

While the issue can be extremely problematic, insomnia itself isn’t a disease or diagnosis. Rather, it’s a symptom of other underlying issues, such as stress, asthma, or cardiovascular problems.

What Is the Main Cause of Insomnia?

According to the Sleep Foundation, Insomnia is usually the result of more than one underlying factor, and these factors can be physical and psychological. The primary cause appears to be stress, and this can stem from a number of environmental factors, such as work, school, and family life.

Stress leads to hyperarousal, which can disrupt your circadian rhythm. The inability to sleep then becomes another source of stress, further contributing to sleepless nights.

Other contributors to insomnia include the following:

  • Excess caffeine and alcohol consumption, especially during the evening
  • Chronic physical pain, such as osteoporosis
  • Side effects from medication
  • Physical discomfort during sleep, such as lying in an uncomfortable bed

Insomnia Statistics

Roughly 30% of American adults suffer from short-term insomnia to some degree. The figure is higher among the older population, with insomnia rates as high as 75% among the senior demographic.

The high insomnia rate also affects productivity, in turn affecting the national economy. An estimated 2.2% of GDP is lost every year due to sleep-deprivation-induced unproductivity.

What Are the Three Types of Insomnia?

Not all forms of insomnia are the same. Researchers have identified three types of insomnia, and they’re classified according to their length and severity.

1. Transient Insomnia

This is the mildest form of insomnia and typically lasts from one week to a month. This is usually due to stressors from recent events or disruptions to your normal schedule, such as jet lag or staying up late to study for an exam. In any event, once the stressor is out of the way, your circadian rhythm quickly returns to normal.

2. Acute Insomnia

This is the next level of insomnia and usually lasts under three months. This condition is more common in women than in men and is due to a major stressful event, such as the death of a loved one, relationship troubles, or a serious medical diagnosis. Apart from difficulty falling asleep, those with acute insomnia may also experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Waking up multiple times per night
  • Trouble falling back asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night
  • Waking up an hour or two earlier and being unable to fall back asleep
  • Daytime fatigue and sleepiness

3. Chronic Insomnia

If acute insomnia persists for more than three months, it becomes chronic. This is the stage where patients need to contemplate sleep disorder treatment. Chronic insomnia may be ongoing or may come and go. A long history of difficulty sleeping may stem from stress; it can also be hereditary or a combination of the two.

Letting chronic insomnia persist can negatively impact your physical and mental health. Poor sleep can lead to a host of other issues, such as weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and more.

If you suspect you have insomnia, get help by making an appointment with SleepWell Louisiana today. We offer sleep disorder treatments in Lafayette, LA, for a number of sleep conditions, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and snoring. Speak to our Sleep Specialist to find out how we can help you!