There are two different ways of answering this question. The first considers the problem from the standpoint of time and divides insomnia into three types:
Types of Insomnia
- Transient (or short-term) insomnia. Transient (or short-term) insomnia lasts for just one or two nights or, at most, may affect your sleep for up to a month. An important upcoming meeting, the excitement of a child’s birthday or a minor illness might all give rise to transient insomnia and, as the underlying cause passes, your sleep pattern returns to normal. We all suffer from short-term insomnia from time to time and this is a normal part of life.
- Intermittent insomnia. If transient insomnia starts to occur frequently, so that your insomnia could be termed as “on and off”, then you are said to be suffering from intermittent insomnia. Over time you may find that the periods of insomnia are coming closer together and lasting for slightly longer each time. This is usually a warning sign that should not be ignored and now is the time to start considering taking action to prevent matters from getting worse.
- Chronic insomnia. Once you reach the stage at which your sleep is being affected on most nights then you are suffering from chronic or severe insomnia. At this point your insomnia will undoubtedly start to impact upon the quality of your life generally and you should certainly begin looking for an insomnia remedy.
The second answer to this question considers the specific difficulties you encounter in sleeping and again divides insomnia into three types:
- Initial insomnia. If you find difficulty in falling asleep, typically taking 30 minutes or more to get to sleep, then you are said to be suffering from initial insomnia.
- Middle insomnia. In the case of middle insomnia you experience problems in staying asleep. Here, it is not uncommon to wake several times during the night and then have difficulty in getting back to sleep, or find that you are only able to drift in and out of light restless sleep.
- Late or Terminal insomnia. In late or terminal insomnia you fall asleep with relative ease and sleep through the first part of the night but then wake early in the morning, usually have enjoyed less than 6 hours of sleep.
Who Suffers From Insomnia?
Anybody can suffer from insomnia and, at some point in our lives, just about all of us will experience some form of insomnia. However, some people are more prone to suffer this sleep disorder than others.
- Women suffer more than men. Apart from the clear difference of problems experienced by women during pregnancy, the monthly hormonal cycle often gives rise to problems of insomnia. Additionally, hormonal changes following the menopause can also result in sleeping difficulties.
- Older people tend to experience more difficulty sleeping and this is particularly true beyond the age of 60.
- Insomnia is also common amongst people who are divorced, widowed or separated and amongst shift workers and frequent long distant travelers, who are prone to jet lag.
- Many people with other medical conditions also experience differing degrees of insomnia. Such conditions are too numerous to list here but would include post-traumatic stress syndrome, brain injury and chronic conditions ranging from tinnitus to respiratory problems and heart disease.