Insomnia literally means “no sleep” in Latin. Medically, the disorder refers to anyone who has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and also to individuals with both problems. The problem is very common..
When insomnia lasts for a few days or weeks, it is typically referred to as acute insomnia. And if it is ongoing for months or years on end, this is known as chronic insomnia. A variety of different factors can contribute to both acute and chronic insomnia.
Causes of Insomnia
Acute insomnia is generally short-lived and is often related to a particularly stressful or emotional life event. Family and financial issues, work-related stress or undergoing trauma are common causes of acute insomnia. In contrast, chronic insomnia lasts longer, and it’s often a side effect of another condition or lifestyle choice. For this reason, most types of chronic insomnia are also referred to as secondary insomnias. This type of insomnia can be a side effect of certain medications or a symptom of some medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and others.
There is another form of chronic insomnia known as primary insomnia. This is a form of insomnia that is not a symptom of other conditions or a side effect of medications. The cause of primary insomnia is often difficult to determine.
The treatment for insomnia will vary depending on its severity and duration. For some forms of acute insomnia, the issues may resolve on their own over time. Similarly, chronic insomnia can sometimes be fixed by changing medications or treating the underlying condition.
For others, finding a treatment for insomnia may be as simple as setting a better bedroom routine, banishing electronics from the bedroom or practicing simple at-home relaxation techniques. Others may need more extensive therapy or medications to help with their sleep issues, so it’s best to speak with a health care provider about the right options for you.
SOURCES: National Sleep Foundation, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2013
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