Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep. There are two main categories of insomnia: sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia.

Sleep onset insomnia is a difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night. It is usually triggered by a stressful event, like a death in the family or before a hard test at school. Normally it should resolve when the trigger is no longer present, but in some people the insomnia becomes a chronic problem. With sleep onset insomnia, it is always important to make sure that other sleeping disorders, like restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea, are adequately treated, as they can exacerbate it.

Sleep maintenance insomnia occurs when a person has difficulty falling asleep after waking up in the middle of the night. The most important point about sleep maintenance insomnia is that there is often an underlying physiologic problem of sleep (like Sleep Apnea) that is leading to the awakenings in the first place. If this problem is not adequately addressed, then it can be very difficult to treat sleep maintenance insomnia.

Who Gets Insomnia?

Anyone can get insomnia. Most people experience it at least once in their lives. It is estimated that approximately 10% of the general population have chronic insomnia. Insomnia is considered a problem when it has not resolved in a reasonable period of time.

How Is Insomnia Treated?

The treatment of insomnia with medications has become a multibillion-dollar industry, but the best treatment methods are actually behavioral methods. Behavioral treatments range from developing good sleep habits to group cognitive behavioral therapy.