What Is Insomnia?

Almost everyone goes through bouts of sleeplessness from time to time. It happens to the average person about once a year. That's the cost of being human and having the capacity to worry about the future and chew over the past.

Chronic insomnia, however, is marked by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or waking up too early. If it takes you thirty minutes or more to fall asleep, or you're awake for thirty minutes or more during the night at least three times a week–for a month or more–you're officially suffering from insomnia. Approximately 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insomnia has major effects on mood as well as alertness. It is also a classic symptom of depression.

Short-acting sleeping pills may improve sleep and next-day alertness. But the best way to handle a bout of insomnia is to do nothing; the body's sleep mechanism tends to right itself, if given the chance. The most effective treatments for chronic insomnia are behavioral techniques that eliminate sleep anxiety and allow the body's own sleep cycle to kick in.

Recent posts on Insomnia

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Is Caffeine Causing Your Sleeplessness?

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on November 17, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
What you need to know about caffeine.

Inconsistent Findings for Valerian as a Sleep Aid

Are you thinking about trying Valerian for insomnia? The evidence is weak and other non-pharma approaches are probably more effective.

Making the Best Treatment for Insomnia More Available

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on November 10, 2017 in Think, Act, Be
Insomnia affects millions, yet the number-one treatment often remains out of reach. Now apps make CBT-I available through web and mobile platforms.
Crestock

Relief from Night Terrors This Veterans Day

By Kathleen Frazier on November 09, 2017 in From Sleepwalker to Sound Sleeper
For veterans suffering from debilitating night terrors, a veteran's son has created an app to stop night terrors.
depositphotos/Maridav

Nightmares and Things That Go Bump in the Night

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on October 26, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Exploring the scary side of sleep and dreaming.

The Health Benefits of Light

Wondering about bright light or dim blue or red light for depressed mood? Research studies show benefits for depressed mood, seasonal affective disorder and some sleep problems.

How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Social Life

By David Ludden Ph.D. on October 15, 2017 in Talking Apes
Although the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation are widely known, few people pay much attention to the social side of sleep.

L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan in Mental Health Care

Curious about the role of amino acids in mental health care? L-tryptophan and a related amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Counting Sheep to Fall Asleep? Better Ways to Fight Insomnia

Restoring to your best each day requires sleep that leaves you recharged and refreshed.

The Power of Wake

By David Hellerstein M.D. on September 22, 2017 in Heal Your Brain
College students commonly "get high and pull all-nighters." Can researchers study college students gone wild to treat depression and other disorders?
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How Melatonin Helps You Sleep

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on September 15, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Learn all about how melatonin can help sleep and bio time.
Lane Erickson/Dreamstime Stock Photos

A Sleep Pioneer’s Labor of Love

By Kathleen Frazier on September 09, 2017 in From Sleepwalker to Sound Sleeper
Afraid to seek help for a sleep disorder? Find a great sleep physician.

Exercise and Its Benefits for Sleep

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on September 06, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Making exercise part of your regular routine can contribute to healthier, more restful sleep—and may help improve sleep issues such as insomnia.

What You Need to Know About L-theanine

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on August 29, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Are you looking for ways to sleep better at night while also feeling relaxed during the day?

Four Ways to More Restful Sleep

A few simple steps can pave the way to consistently refreshing sleep. A tranquil bedroom arranged for the senses, and a consistent routine are the key.

On Your Adolescents Getting Up in the Morning

It's hard for adolescents to get up in the morning, especially if they suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. What tips can we get from published research?

Mold Toxicity: A Common Cause of Psychiatric Symptoms

By Judy Tsafrir M.D. on August 03, 2017 in Holistic Psychiatry
Could your depression, anxiety, brain fog and insomnia be due to toxic mold? This is a very treatable condition, but first you must recognize that mold toxicity is the cause.

In Pain? Five Simple, Effective Things You Can Do Right Now

By Traci Stein Ph.D., MPH on August 01, 2017 in The Integrationist
Struggling with chronic pain? It's linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Here are five simple, low-cost therapies can help you start feeling better.

How to Address 7 of the Most Unhelpful Beliefs About Sleep

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on July 10, 2017 in Think, Act, Be
Bad sleep opens the door for thoughts that only make sleep worse. Find out what some of the most troubling thoughts are, and how to fix them.
"Yin and Yang" by Klem - This vector image was created with Inkscape by Klem, and then manually edited by Mnmazur.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons a/File:Yin_and_Yang.svg

Treatment of Insomnia: Cannabis Reconsidered Part 4

By John Cline Ph.D. on June 30, 2017 in Sleepless in America
While many patients are using medical cannabis to treat insomnia, and research progress is being made, there is much that needs to be done to insure efficacy and safety.
"Yin and Yang" by Klem - This vector image was created with Inkscape by Klem, and then manually edited by Mnmazur.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons a/File:Yin_and_Yang.svg

Treatment of Insomnia: Cannabis Reconsidered, Part Three

By John Cline Ph.D. on June 30, 2017 in Sleepless in America
Increasing numbers of patients are using medical marijuana for treatment of their insomnia. Patients need reliable information about what it does and how it works.
Laura Arredondo Hernandez/Dreamstime Stock Photos

Freedom From Sleep Disorders This Independence Day

By Kathleen Frazier on June 29, 2017 in From Sleepwalker to Sound Sleeper
Is it possible to free yourself from debilitating insomnia? What about terrifying sleepwalking or sleep terrors? Peaceful slumber is possible, one night at a time.

The Importance of Sleep: The Brain's Laundry Cycle

By Jean Kim M.D. on June 28, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Evidence shows sleep washes and repairs the brain and maintains our health; as a society we shouldn't neglect the importance of sleep hygiene.
By Cannabis Training University (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0

Treatment of Insomnia: Cannabis Reconsidered Part 2

By John Cline Ph.D. on June 28, 2017 in Sleepless in America
Cannabis is being increasingly used for its medicinal and psychotherapeutic potential. Does it have the properties necessary to be an effective treatment for insomnia?

A Mindful Evening

Do you have trouble winding down at night? These brief meditations can ease you into a more restful space.
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Change, Little Bit by Little Bit

Large changes start small. Sometimes they stay that way.

Having a Hard Time Sleeping? Do Nothing!

Do you toss and turn in bed? Can’t get to sleep (or go back to sleep) no matter what you do? New research suggests there may be a path forward, and it isn’t what you think…

Fatigue, the Brain and Therapists

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on April 26, 2017 in Trouble in Mind
Studies have found that debilitating fatigue is a common symptom of many types of brain damage and disorders, from mild head injury to benign pituitary adenoma to dementia.

Need a Midday Energy Boost? Skip the Caffeine, Take a Walk

Brief bouts of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity are more energizing than a 50 mg dose of caffeine (such as a can of soda or shot of espresso), according to a new study.