Skip to main content

Insomnia: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

  • Synopsis: Insomnia is a symptom of a sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Definition: Insomnia

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired. Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication.

Main Document

Insomnia is a symptom of a sleeping disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite the opportunity. It is typically followed by functional impairment while awake.

Insomniacs have been known to complain about being unable to close their eyes or "rest their mind" for more than a few minutes at a time. Both organic and non-organic insomnia constitute a sleep disorder.

Although there are several different degrees of insomnia, three types of insomnia have been clearly identified: transient, acute, and chronic.

An over-active mind or physical pain may also be the causes.

Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it. Insomnia can be common after the loss of a loved one, even years or decades after the death, if they have not gone through the grieving process. Overall, symptoms and the degree of their severity affect each individual differently depending on their mental health, physical condition, and attitude or personality.

A common misperception is that the amount of sleep a person requires decreases as he or she ages. The ability to sleep for long periods, rather than the need for sleep, appears to be lost as people get older. Some elderly insomniacs toss and turn in bed and occasionally fall off the bed at night, diminishing the amount of sleep they receive.

Specialists in sleep medicine are qualified to diagnose the many different sleep disorders.

Patients with various disorders including delayed sleep phase syndrome are often mis-diagnosed with insomnia. If a patient has trouble getting to sleep, but has normal sleep architecture once asleep, a circadian rhythm disorder is a likely cause.

In many cases, insomnia is caused by another disease, side effects from medications or a psychological problem. It is important to identify or rule out medical and psychological before deciding on the treatment for the insomnia.

Many insomniacs rely on sleeping tablets and other sedatives to get rest.

All sedative drugs have the potential of causing psychological dependence where the individual cannot psychologically accept that they can sleep without drugs.

The antihistamine Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is widely used in nonprescription sleep aids such as Tylenol PM, with a 50 mg recommended dose mandated by the FDA. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other countries, a 50 to 100 mg recommended dose is permitted.

Herbal Remedies:

Some insomniacs use herbs such as valerian, chamomile, lavender, hops, and passion-flower.

Valerian has undergone multiple studies and appears to be modestly effective.

Using aromatherapy, including jasmine oil, lavender oil, Mahabhringaraj and other relaxing essential oils, may also help induce a state of restfulness.

Many believe that listening to slow paced music will help insomniacs fall asleep.

Some traditional and anecdotal remedies for insomnia include:

Insomnia Awareness

Black awareness ribbonThe Sleep Disorders Awareness Ribbon color is black. April Is Insomnia Awareness Month and March 2 - 8 is Insomnia Awareness Week, sponsored by the American Sleep Association. Insomnia awareness day falls on March 9 in 2015 - The same day as daylight savings time change.

Quick Facts: Insomnia Types &

There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.

Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.

Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).

A complete diagnosis will differentiate between free-standing primary insomnia, insomnia as secondary to another condition, and primary insomnia co-morbid with one or more conditions.

Statistics: Insomnia

Latest Insomnia Publications

  1. Insomnia: Sleeping Disorders and Chronic Pain Conditions
    Information relating to chronic pain as a cause of insomnia and why the perception of pain increases when trying to fall asleep.
  2. Insomnia Drug Intermezzo Approved by FDA
    US FDA approves Intermezzo zolpidem tartrate sublingual tablets for insomnia characterized by night waking followed by difficulty returning to sleep.
  3. Cherry Juice May be Natural Cure for Insomnia
    Tart cherry juice can be a natural solution for insomnia and red hot Super Fruit aids sleep in older adults.
  4. Insomnia Causes Cures and Medication
    We take a look into what insomnia is what causes it and tips and medications to help you get to sleep quicker.
  5. Natural Home Cures for Insomnia and Sleeplessness
    Natural cures for insomnia that will work for anyone who is serious about improving sleep quality and defeating sleeplessness.

Full List of Insomnia Documents (5 Items)


     What will I receive?

Loan iconLoan programs for low income singles, families, seniors & disabled. Includes grants, home ownership, vehicle modifications, personal loans and scholarships.