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Acute vs Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia occurs when you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It is the most common sleep complaint, affecting as many as 30 percent of adults. Insomnia can impact nearly every aspect of your life. Studies show that insomnia negatively affects work performance, decision-making skills, relationships, and overall health.

There are two types of insomnia:

  • Acute insomnia lasts for a short time, from several nights up to three weeks – and goes away on its on without treatment. Acute insomnia is more common than chronic insomnia.
  • Chronic insomnia lasts more than three weeks, and often requires some form of treatment. Nearly 1 in 10 people have chronic insomnia.

The results of untreated acute or chronic insomnia may include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Frustration or worry about your sleep
  • Problems with attention, concentration, or memory
  • Extreme mood changes or irritability
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Tension, headaches, or stomach aches

If you have short-term insomnia, you may not need treatment since improved sleep habits and self-care will often solve the problem. However, if chronic insomnia is interfering with your day-to-day functioning, talk to your doctor. If he/she suspects a sleep disorder, a referral to a sleep specialist might be in order.

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