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HomesleepWhat Are the Five Types of Insomnia?

What Are the Five Types of Insomnia?

5 Types of InsomniaThe insomnia causes may differ according to the type of Insomnia.

The five types of insomnia are as follows:

  1. Acute insomnia 
  2. Chronic insomnia 
  3. Onset insomnia
  4. Maintenance insomnia 
  5. Behavioral insomnia of childhood

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, maintenance, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep, and that results in some form of daytime impairment.

5 Types of insomnia

Acute insomnia
Acute insomnia is the most common type of insomnia. It is short term and lasts for a few days up to a month. It is also commonly called adjustment insomnia because it is usually caused by a change in environment or stressful events. Some common causes of acute insomnia are as follows: 

  • New environment and unfamiliarity
  • Excessive noise or light
  • Extremes of temperature
  • Uncomfortable bed or mattress
  • New job or school
  • Relocation to a new place
  • Jet lag
  • Work deadlines or examinations
  • Death of a relative or close friend
  • Difficulties in a relationship
  • Physical discomfort such as pain 
  • Certain medications
  • Acute illness and allergies

Chronic insomnia

Insomnia is usually a transient or short-term condition. In some cases, insomnia can become chronic or long term. Insomnia is said to be chronic if the patient experiences difficulties in sleeping at least three days a week for at least a month. Chronic insomnia may be primary or secondary. Primary chronic insomnia is also called idiopathic insomnia because there is no specific cause. Secondary chronic insomnia is also called comorbid insomnia. Comorbid insomnia is more common than primary insomnia and occurs due to other underlying medical conditions (comorbidities).

Common causes of chronic insomnia include the following:

Maintenance insomnia
Maintenance insomnia is when the patient has difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early and difficulty going back to sleep. Maintenance insomnia may be caused by chronic medical conditions or psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, or stress. Some medical conditions that may cause maintenance insomnia are as follows:

Behavioral insomnia of childhood
Behavioral insomnia of childhood (BIC) can usually be managed with appropriate behavioral therapy. BIC has three subtypes:

  • BIC sleep-onset: It can usually be resolved with a few behavioral changes such as creating a healthy sleep routine or learning self-soothing or relaxation techniques. It occurs due to negative associations with sleep, such as needing to go to sleep by being rocked or nursed or watching TV while going to bed.
  • BIC limit-setting: This occurs due to the child’s refusal to go to bed.
  • BIC combined type: This is a combination of both BIC subtypes.

How is insomnia treated?

The treatment usually includes a combination of more than one treatment modality and uses a multi-disciplinary approach. Treatment options include the following:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Sleep hygiene education: This addresses behavior that is incompatible with sleep such as caffeine or alcohol use, environmental noise, inappropriate room temperature, and watching TV in bed.
  • Cognitive therapy and relaxation therapy: This involves inculcating correct sleep beliefs, reducing stress and anxiety, relaxation exercises, and meditation. Acupressure and massage therapies can help in relaxation and reducing chronic pain.
  • Stimulus-control therapy: This works by associating the bed with only sleepiness and when it is time to sleep.
  • Sleep-restriction therapy: This is based on the fact that excessive time in bed can lead to insomnia. Hence, it is advised for adults to limit sleep time to around five to seven hours.

Medication to treat insomnia:
Sedative-hypnotic drugs, sedating antidepressants, antihistamines, and other drugs may be prescribed by a physician.


FDA-approved prescription devices can be used in patients with insomnia.

Diet and exercise:

Patients are advised the following:

  • To avoid caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or evening
  • To avoid alcohol in the evening
  • To avoid large meals right before bedtime
  • To exercise in the late afternoon or early evening (six hours before bedtime) can promote sleep

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