Types and Patterns of Insomnia

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American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) says 30 percent to 35 percent of adults in the United States have insomnia, which is most common among older adults, women and people who have depression or stress.

Types of insomnia are defined according to the duration and the nature of the sleep interruption, according to National Sleep Foundation, which is an advocacy organization. Insomnia has many causes, so the type of treatment for it varies.

Transient insomnia. This form of insomnia lasts less than a week and typically is caused by excitement, jet lag, stress over a nagging issue or a brief illness. Transient insomnia resolves itself without treatment.

Acute insomnia. About 15 percent to 20 percent of adults experience this form of insomnia, which lasts up to 3 months and typically is caused by grief, stress over a bigger problem or a longer illness. AASM and American College of Physicians (ACP) recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I) as the first method of treatment.

Chronic insomnia. About 10 percent of adults have difficulty falling or staying asleep at least three times per week for at least 3 months. Chronic insomnia can signal an underlying health problem. AASM and ACP recommend CBT-I as the first method of treatment.

The following three patterns of insomnia are defined by the time during the night that you typically experience insomnia. Experts say diagnosing the pattern of insomnia that you experience helps you to figure out what causes your insomnia.

Onset insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep after going to bed. Causes: anxiety, nagging problems, stress, uncomfortable bed.

Sleep-maintenance insomnia: Difficulty remaining asleep and falling back to sleep after waking up during the night. Causes: anxiety, illness, pain, exposure to bright light after you get up during the middle of the night.

Terminal insomnia: Difficulty falling back asleep after you wake up too early. Causes: depression, too much light sleep and not enough deep sleep.