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  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Frequent awakenings during sleep
  • Waking too early and unable to get back to sleep
  • Waking up feeling unrefreshed


  • Women
  • Older Persons
  • Those with a medical condition
  • Persons who have psychiatric disorders, particularly depression
  • Shift workers

 A full night’s sleep without interruptions may improve your health, productivity, safety and overall well-being.

Learn more about insomnia at

At this site, you will also find useful tools such as a sleep diary, an insomnia self-assessment questionnaire, lists of sleep centers, and a guide called “Sleep Talk With Your Doctor”.



Insomnia is the most common sleep problem among adults in the U.S. and most developed countries. In recent NSF polls, over 50% of Americans report experiencing insomnia symptoms a few nights a week or more. During times of stress, loss or change, insomnia can affect our sleep even more. Not only can insomnia itself cause discomfort and anxiety, but it can also have effects the next day such as causing problems with concentration, sleepiness and even mood changes. Chronic insomnia may also have long-term effects on health and well-being, another reason to talk about your sleep with your healthcare provider.

Insomnia is a symptom or complaint of insufficient, disturbed, poor-quality or non-restorative sleep.





Transient: a few nights a week
Short Term: 1-2 weeks

Stress, anxiety or change due to a loss of a loved one or a job; a health, work or personal problem; and/or a special or tragic event.


More than 1 month
(at least 3 nights a week)

An underlying or associated medical or physical condition including other sleep disorders or psychiatric conditions, particularly depression; medications; poor health and sleep habits; environmental sleeping conditions.


More than 1 month

No known or associated underlying condition; person may be more prone to arousal or have chronic stress.

For some people, once it starts, insomnia becomes hard to end. People get concerned that they won’t be able to fall asleep, they change their sleep patterns and as a result may make the problem longer lasting. It is estimated that about 10-15% of adults have chronic insomnia. If uncorrected, continued insomnia may create a risk for depression or other ill-effects.

Insomnia can also be intermittent, occurring less frequently or irregularly over a longer time period.


Treatment and Management of Insomnia

Combines medications with improving health and sleep habits.

For acute or intermittent treatment of insomnia, sleep medications are more commonly prescribed

  • Hypnotics are prescription medications that promote and help maintain sleep. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found them to be effective and safe. Recent studies have shown that hypnotic medications are most effective when used with behavioral treatments and healthy sleep practices.
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) sleep promoting medications may include pain relievers or antihistamines; the latter are typically used for colds or allergies, but often have long-lasting sedating effects and have been shown to cause confusion and prolong hospitalization when used by older patients.

A combination of several behavioral treatments have been effective in treating insomnia

  • Relaxation Training: using such techniques as muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises to reduce tension and ease the transition into sleep
  • Stimulus Control Therapy: making it so your sleep environment is not stimulating and promotes sleep
  • Cognitive Therapy: learning to develop positive thoughts and beliefs about sleep
  • Sleep Restriction: following a program that limits time in bed in order to get to sleep and stay asleep


Untreated Insomnia

Can lead to daytime sleepiness, mood impairment, difficulty with memory, poor performance, driving drowsy, accidents, illness and an inability to enjoy life.

It is helpful to keep a sleep diary to record your nighttime sleep and daytime activities. It will be important to first identify the underlying cause of your insomnia. Use the diary to talk to your doctor about your sleep.


Good Health Habits that Promote Sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Tobacco can endanger your health and should not be used. It also contains nicotine which has stimulating effects and may keep you awake.
  • Exercise, but do so 3-6 hours before bedtime.
  • Do not go to bed too full or too hungry.


Good Sleep Practices that Promote Sleep:

  • Maintain a regular sleep and wake time every day, even on weekends.
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine. Try a relaxing activity before getting into bed – avoid an alerting, “brain activating” or stressful task close to bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
  • Use a mattress and pillow that provide comfort.


If you are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, to help you sleep:

  • Do not go to bed until you are sleepy.
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only.
  • Get out of bed at the same time each morning.
  • Limit naps. They can reduce your need for nighttime sleep.
  • After 15 minutes of being unable to sleep or if you awake frequently during the night, get out of bed, go to another room and do something relaxing.
  • If you go to sleep and wake too early, try exposing yourself to bright light in the evening until you are ready to go to bed. Special light boxes are available.
  • If you are not getting enough sleep, restrict your time in bed to the hours you actually sleep; then gradually increase this time by going to bed earlier. Increase the time until you have good, continuous sleep during the entire time you are in bed.