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What Is Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep.

The condition can be short-term (acute) or can last a long time (chronic). It may also come and go.

Acute insomnia lasts from 1 night to a few weeks. Insomnia is chronic when it happens at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more.

Types of Insomnia

There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary.

  • Primary insomnia: This means your sleep problems aren’t linked to any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary insomnia: This means you have trouble sleeping because of a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication; or substance use (like alcohol).

Insomnia Causes

Causes of primary insomnia include:

  • Stress related to big life events, like a job loss or change, the death of a loved one, divorce, or moving
  • Things around you like noise, light, or temperature
  • Changes to your sleep schedule like jet lag, a new shift at work, or bad habits you picked up when you had other sleep problems
  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Medications for colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma
  • Pain or discomfort at night
  • Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol use
  • Hyperthyroidism and other endocrine problems
  • Other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome

Insomnia Risk Factors

Insomnia affects women more than men and older people more than younger ones. Young and middle-age African Americans also have a higher risk.

Other risk factors include:

  • Long-term illness
  • Mental health issues
  • Working night shifts or shifts that rotate

Insomnia Risk Factors Insomnia affects women more than men and older people more than younger ones. Young and middle-age African Americans also have a higher risk. Other risk factors include: Long-term illness Mental health issues Working night shifts or shifts that rotate