What Is Insomnia?

Anyone who has ever spent a sleepless night knows all too well that insomnia leads to lost productivity, headaches, sleepiness during the day, and difficulty completing tasks that people can perform on an average day without thinking twice. 

While adults may know what insomnia is, they may not know there are different types of insomnia. Understanding the different types of insomnia is important to developing a plan for overcoming it. Here is a comprehensive explanation from the Jacksonville Sleep Center about several types of insomnia

 acute insomnia

Comprehensive List of the Types of Insomnia

There are different ways to classify insomnia. Here is a guide and description of insomnia types so you can find your type of insomnia based on what you experience while sleeping.  That way, you can discover the different types of insomnia and learn how to identify them. This guide provides insights and tips to manage your sleep better.

Insomnia By Duration

Sleep specialists classify insomnia by how long you experience it. If you classify insomnia depending on how long your bouts of sleeplessness last, researchers agree there are two insomnia types. 

Acute Insomnia

If you suffer from acute insomnia, you have been suffering from insomnia for less than three months. Most adults who suffer from acute insomnia have experienced a traumatic event in their lives, such as severe illness or death of a family member, divorce, moving, or job loss. 

These events can cause temporary sleep disturbance while you get adjusted to the changes in your life. Both adults and children may suffer from acute insomnia, and women suffer from acute insomnia more often than men do.

Chronic Insomnia

Doctors usually classify people with chronic insomnia as their inability to either fall asleep or stay asleep at least three times weekly for longer than three months. This seems to be a fairly easy type of insomnia to understand, but chronic insomnia seems to have a pattern in some people, while other chronic insomnia sufferers see no pattern at all. 

For example, you may have months of issues with sleeping, followed by months where sleeping is not an issue. However, other adults may have had insomnia throughout their lives without ever going away. 

Chronic insomnia can have several causes. You may have trouble sleeping due to the medication you are on. If you sleep with a partner who constantly snores, insomnia may be an issue. 

You could have issues with sleeplessness due to stress, your mental health, or physical issues, such as a neurological problem. Chronic insomnia can occur no matter your age, but women suffer from chronic insomnia more often than men do. 

chronic insomnia

Primary Vs. Secondary Insomnia

You can describe insomnia as primary or secondary as well, which means either there is no underlying cause for your sleeplessness or you have an underlying medical condition that causes your insomnia. 

Primary Insomnia

People with primary insomnia do not have an underlying cause for their sleep issues. For example, you do not have a disease or an underlying cause that may keep you from sleeping. People who have allergies, for example, are often woken in the middle of the night with congestion that impacts their breathing. If you have primary insomnia, there seems to be no reason you cannot sleep. 

Secondary Insomnia

In contrast, if you have secondary insomnia, your inability to sleep is caused by a physical condition, your medication, a mental condition, or another sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Both children and adults can experience primary or secondary insomnia. 

sleep onset insomnia

By Problem Area

Doctors and sleep specialists also classify insomnia based on when it occurs. Insomnia may strike you at or around the same part of your sleep cycle. 

Onset Insomnia

If you experience sleep onset insomnia, you have trouble going to sleep in the evenings. If you have a shift job, such as nursing, your issues with sleep could begin with the start of your sleep cycle. Most people report they can lie awake in bed for hours before finally drifting off. 

Sleep Maintenance Insomnia

If you experience no issues going to sleep but you have serious issues staying asleep, you may be experiencing sleep maintenance insomnia. Overwhelmingly, sleep maintenance insomnia occurs in girls and women far more often than men. 

Other Types of Insomnia

There are a few types of insomnia that are more difficult to classify, or they occur less frequently than other insomnia types. While they might not happen as frequently, both behavioral insomnia of childhood and paradoxical insomnia can be just as difficult to treat as other insomnia types. 

Behavioral Insomnia of Childhood (BIC)

Children can experience their own brand of difficulty sleeping, especially when they reach the toddler stage. If a child does not go to sleep because they do not have their favorite sleep aid, such as a pacifier or stuffed animal, they may be suffering from behavioral insomnia of childhood (BIC). Children who experience the behavioral insomnia of childhood may also become defiant and refuse to sleep outright. 

Paradoxical Insomnia

People who suffer from rare cases of paradoxical insomnia believe they have severe insomnia without any of the usual underlying causes or results from insomnia. For example, adults with paradoxical insomnia believe they languished for hours in bed with no sleep, even though they may have suffered from wakefulness for only a little while. They also tend to believe they never went to sleep at all, even if they did sleep. These insomnia sufferers can believe they are awake even while they are sleeping. While paradoxical insomnia usually does not have the same underlying causes, it can be emotionally exhausting. 

sleep maintenance insomnia

Where to Go for Help with Insomnia

Now that you have more information on what type of insomnia you may have, it is time to get help. You may want to start by establishing a good bedtime routine, such as going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. Also, try to avoid stimulants like caffeine and exercise at least four hours before you go to sleep. If you give yourself time with your new sleep routine, but you are still suffering from insomnia, it is time to get help. Why not give the Jacksonville Sleep Center a call today so that we can set you up with an appointment with a sleep specialist?