Psych Central

Sleep Disorders: Insomnia

by Michael Bengston, M.D.
30 Mar 2005

Almost everyone occasionally suffers from short-term insomnia. This problem can result from stress, jet lag, diet, or many other factors. Insomnia almost always affects job performance and well-being the next day. About 60 million Americans a year have insomnia frequently or for extended periods of time, which leads to even more serious sleep deficits. Insomnia tends to increase with age and affects about 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men. It is often the major disabling symptom of an underlying medical disorder.

For short-term insomnia, doctors may prescribe sleeping pills. Most sleeping pills stop working after several weeks of nightly use, however, and long-term use can actually interfere with good sleep. Mild insomnia often can be prevented or cured by practicing good sleep habits (see Tips for a Good Night's Sleep). For more serious cases of insomnia, researchers are experimenting with light therapy and other ways to alter circadian cycles.

For the specific diagnostic criteria of Insomnia, please read this symptom list.

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Last reviewed:
  On 26 May 2013
  By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.



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