What actually is insomnia?

Insomnia is probably the best known sleep disorder.

Simply put, it is a condition characterised by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.

But while insomnia is technically a sleep disorder, it usually appears as the symptom of a different illness, rather than a condition in isolation. All sorts of emotional, physical and mental factors can make it difficult to get sleep, and when this happens we call it insomnia.

Because of this, the list of things that cause insomnia is unhelpfully long. And so we split insomnia into four different categories to be able to better understand and treat the disorder.

1. Primary Insomnia

This is basically insomnia as an isolated disorder. Someone with primary insomnia is experiencing sleep problems which aren't associated with any other medical conditions.

2. Secondary Insomnia

This is when insomnia is directly caused by other issues like a medical condition, medications or bodily pain.

3. Acute Insomnia

This is a brief version of the disorder that is often the result of a disruption in someone's life. This disruption could be something like stress, discomfort, a heat wave or jet lag. Acute insomnia usually lasts between a few days and a few weeks.

4. Chronic Insomnia

This version of insomnia is long-term, and is a result of conditions that are themselves also long-term. Causes of chronic insomnia includes anxiety, stress, depression or chronic pain and the disorder can last anywhere between a few months and a few years.

Because of the broad range of causes behind insomnia, the treatments for the disorder are equally as varied.

It's important to take each case of the condition on its own, and work out what the best path forward is for that particular individual.

If getting enough sleep is something you struggle with, it's important to speak to a doctor. Book an appointment with your GP and get in touch with us.

Better sleep means better living.

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