Insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.

How much sleep is enough varies from person to person. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night.

Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication.

You don't have to put up with sleepless nights. Simple changes in your daily habits can often help.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Insomnia symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Awakening during the night
  • Awakening too early
  • Not feeling well rested after a night's sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Tension headaches
  • Distress in the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract)
  • Ongoing worries about sleep

Someone with insomnia will often take 30 minutes or more to fall asleep and may get only six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights a week over a month or more.

When to see a doctor

If insomnia makes it hard for you to function during the day, see your doctor to determine what might be the cause of your sleep problem and how it can be treated. If your doctor thinks you could have a sleep disorder, you might be referred to a sleep center for special testing.

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