Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It may make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get restful sleep. It may be:
Insomnia happens for many reasons. Short-term insomnia is often caused by:
The cause of long-term insomnia is not always clear. It can be caused by:
Both types of insomnia can be due to:
Insomnia is more common in women at and after menopause. It is also common in adults 50 years of age or older.
The risk is higher for those with any problems listed above.
Insomnia may cause:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will ask about your sleep, habits, schedule, and medicines.
If the cause is not clear, a sleep study may be done. This is done in a special lab. A technician will look at brain activity, breathing, and movement as you sleep.
The goal is to improve sleep. This may be done by treating underlying problems or behaviors. Other options are:
To reduce the risk of insomnia:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Sleep Foundation
Sleep On It
Canadian Sleep Society
Insomnia. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/insomnia. Accessed February 25, 2021.
Insomnia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/insomnia. Accessed February 25, 2021.
Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/insomnia-in-adults. Accessed February 25, 2021.
Patel D, Steinberg J, Patel P. Insomnia in the elderly: a review. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(6):1017-1024.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 2/25/2021