Type of Insomnia

Written by Derek Johnson

Insomnia, which is the inability to fall, stay, or go back to sleep,  is a common and sometimes debilitating condition defined as sleep less than. According to one study, it affects up to 40% of adults in the USA each year.[1] It is a condition that exists in many forms and is not simply the inability to fall asleep. Depending on whom you ask, there can be up to 13 types of insomnia, although some of them do overlap. Generally speaking, though, the condition can be initially categorized as acute or chronic.

Acute insomnia, also known as short-term insomnia, typically lasting no more than three months. It is of very brief duration and is often the product of a recent stressful or traumatic event in one’s life. These types of events may include the death of a loved one, withdrawals from the cessation of drug use, work-related events, and the like. It may also occur during pregnancy.

As time goes on beyond the stressful event, people living with acute insomnia may see their ability to sleep return gradually, although some may develop chronic insomnia.

Chronic insomnia affects the sufferer regularly over a long period. For some, it is an everyday affair, while others may only suffer from this form of sleeplessness a few days per week. Others get days, weeks, or even months respite from the condition only to have it return.

Within these two main categories of insomnia, there are many different ways to describe the condition. Sleep-Onset Insomnia, for example, refers to the problem of falling asleep at bedtime. Eventually, sufferers may fall asleep but only after losing hours of precious.

Sleep-maintenance insomnia keeps its sufferers from staying asleep. After successfully falling asleep, those with sleep-maintenance problems will typically awaken some hours after falling asleep with the inability to return to dreamland at all or without the passing of at least 30 minutes and sometimes hours. Those with early-morning waking insomnia will awaken in the early hours of the morning, before their desired waking time.

Other types of insomnia include:

  • medication or drug-induced insomnia,
  • paradoxical insomnia (for which no underlying reason for insomnia exists), and
  • behavioral insomnia of childhood.

With the latter, children may be unable to fall asleep on their own and in their room due to associations they’ve made between falling asleep and settings (i.e., habit of sleeping in parents’ room), behaviors (i.e., being held or rocked by a parent), or objects (i.e., falling asleep with a special blanket).

Treatments for insomnia vary depending on the cause and type of insomnia in question. Standard therapies and cures include sleeping aids, muscle relaxants, meditation, massages, diet alteration, and treatment, to name only a few.

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  1. Dopheide, A, Julie. Insomnia Overview: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, Diagnosing and Monitoring, and Nonpharmacologic Therapy. American Journal of Managed Care. 2020, 26(4), S76-S74.

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Derek Johnson

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