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What is Insomnia: Everything You Need to Know

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Update: May 3, 2023
4 min read

Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder where you experience difficulty falling asleep or tend to wake up too early, unable to fall back to sleep. It leads to fatigue and sometimes hampers daytime functionality. And since sleep is such an essential part of our overall well-being, it becomes imperative to rectify insomnia symptoms. So today, we are here to tell you everything about insomnia, its meaning, treatments, and more. 

What Is Insomnia?

Today, almost 93% of Indians suffer from sleep disorders and insomnia is a common culprit.

So, what is insomnia? It is one of the sleep disorders. When you live with insomnia, you may experience;

  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Waking up too early or waking up not feeling refreshed
  • Feel tired in the morning or hampered daytime functioning

Some of the most common symptoms of insomnia include; 

  • You wake up too early and are unable to fall back to sleep 
  • Not able to fall asleep easily or lying awake at night 
  • Broken sleep 
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes 
  • Unable to concentrate

Insomnia vs. Occasional Sleeplessness

One of the main differences between insomnia and occasional sleeplessness is insomnia is a sleep disorder, while occasional sleeplessness may be triggered by stress, poor sleep habits, or irregular schedules. However, if it continues for more than two weeks, it becomes essential to consult a doctor. 

Coming to insomnia, it is a treatable condition that usually goes away once you correct your schedule. But, if sleep restorative methods don’t work, medical intervention becomes necessary. 

Types of Insomnia

Now that you know the definition of insomnia, let’s take a look at the types of insomnia.

Chronic Insomnia Disorder

If you find it difficult to fall asleep for at least three nights a week, which continues for a month, it can be categorised as chronic insomnia. 

Short-Term Insomnia Disorder

Short-term insomnia usually occurs when you travel or maybe because of stress, and your sleep schedule regulates on its own when that particular stress goes away. 

Onset Insomnia 

Sleep-onset insomnia is the difficulty you face when initialising sleep. Mostly, it is associated with psychological causes. But can also occur due to circadian rhythm disorder or a medical condition. 

Maintenance Insomnia 

In maintenance insomnia, you tend to find it difficult to stay asleep or wake up too early and are unable to go back to sleep. It can usually occur due to mental health conditions like depression or medical issues like sleep apnea.

Primary and Secondary Insomnia

In primary insomnia, the sleeplessness is not due to an existing medical, environmental or psychological issue. However, secondary insomnia is caused by other sleep disorders or illnesses. 

What Causes Insomnia?

The most common causes of insomnia are;


Maybe you have been facing too much pressure at work or home; it is one of the common reasons for insomnia.

Travel or work schedule:

If you have been travelling to multiple time zones or have a shift job, it can adversely affect your circadian rhythm and disrupt your sleep cycle. 

Poor sleep habits:

Poor sleep habits, such as an irregular sleep schedule, overstimulating activity before bed, or an uncomfortable sleep environment, can lead to poor sleep. 

Eating too much, late in the evening:

Having a heavy dinner or snack before bed can hinder your sleep.

Risk Factors for Insomnia

While we all go through sleepless nights at one time or another, a few factors put you at risk of insomnia.

  • A woman: Hormones can lead to insomnia, mainly during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. 
  • Being over the age of 60: As you grow older, there are changes in sleep patterns and health. Hence, it puts you at risk of insomnia.
  • Health issues: It can disturb your sleep if you are battling a physical or medical condition.
  • Stress: Going through stress can lead to temporary insomnia.  

Treatments for Insomnia

Sometimes, changing your sleep schedule and having some consistency can help relieve insomnia. But, if it doesn’t work, the below treatment methods may be used.


The first step towards getting rid of insomnia symptoms is to educate yourself and learn everything you can about the condition. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I):

CBT-I is usually the first line of treatment for people with insomnia. It is a method that helps you eliminate any negative thoughts you may have that keep you awake at night.  

Sleep medications:

Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe medications for a short while to help you sleep.

Insomnia Complications

When you don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to complications, such as;

  • Your daytime performance can go down 
  • It puts you at risk of accidents since you haven’t slept well
  • It can lead to mental health conditions, such as depression 
  • This puts you at risk of high blood pressure or heart disease

How to Prevent Insomnia

Some tips you can try to prevent insomnia include;

  • Have a consistent sleep schedule where you sleep and wake up at the same time
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make sure your medication is not the culprit and contributing to insomnia
  • Try to avoid naps and stay away from too much caffeine
  • Have a comfortable room and try relaxing techniques, such as meditation or journaling, before you go to sleep


Insomnia is a curable condition. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, treat it immediately because sleep is vital for overall well-being.


What are the 3 types of insomnia?

There are different types of insomnia, such as chronic, sleep onset, and maintenance insomnia.

How can I get rid of insomnia?

You can try having a proper sleep schedule to get rid of insomnia. But, if it doesn’t work, you can try talking to your doctor about insomnia treatments.

How can I know if I have insomnia?

If you cannot fall asleep, wake up too early and go back to sleep, or find it difficult to stay asleep, it can be insomnia. Here, you can speak with your doctor for more.

How many hours do insomniacs sleep?

It differs from one person to another.

How long will insomnia last?

It depends on the type of insomnia you are suffering from. It can go away within three months if proper medical help is taken.


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Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
With a Master's Degree in Mass Communication and nearly two decades of professional expertise in crafting healthcare articles, he possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field.

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