Different Types of Insomnia

Different Types of Insomnia

According to statistics, insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders people suffer from characterized by having difficulty falling and staying asleep. Precisely speaking, about half of the adult population experience insomnia occasionally. What’s more, one in 10 people experience chronic insomnia.

Sadly, the condition can affect anyone, yet women and older adults are more likely to suffer from it. And, its symptoms can last for a couple of days, weeks, or months, and become long-term. Furthermore, there are several different types of insomnia based on the duration, the symptoms, and the underlying cause.

So now, let’s help you differentiate between the different types of insomnia by reading through the following detailed descriptions of each insomnia type.

The Four Different Insomnia Types

  1. Acute Insomnia

Acute insomnia is the medical term for the short-term type of the condition that may last from a few days to several weeks and it’s the most common type of all. But, it’s also known as adjustment insomnia as it usually occurs as a result of a stressful event or a major change in life. Other acute insomnia causes include:

  • Physical discomfort like pain
  • Change of sleeping environment
  • Excess noise or light
  • Specific medications
  • Illness
  • Jet lag


  1. Chronic Insomnia

If your symptoms last for at least three days a week for a month it means that you have chronic insomnia which can be either primary or secondary. Primary chronic insomnia also referred to as idiopathic insomnia, doesn’t have a clear cause or underlying health condition causing your sleep troubles. On the other hand, secondary chronic insomnia, also referred to as comorbid insomnia, is caused by an underlying condition. Common chronic insomnia causes include:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Specific lifestyle factors


  1. Onset Insomnia

This type of insomnia is characterized by extreme difficulties falling asleep, i.e. initiating sleep. It can be both acute and chronic and can be caused by any of the above-listed potential causes although psychological or psychiatric issues like stress, anxiety, and depression are the most common causes.

Moreover, a study has shown that those who suffer from chronic onset insomnia typically have another sleep disorder like periodic limb movement disorder or restless leg syndrome. Sometimes, drinking too much coffee or other caffeinated drinks is the main culprit for having chronic onset insomnia.

  1. Maintenance Insomnia

Finally and contrary to onset insomnia, there’s also maintenance insomnia which is characterized by facing difficulty staying asleep or waking up way too early and not being able to get back to sleep. People with this type of insomnia usually worry about not being able to get enough sleep, which then impedes sleep further, eventually creating a vicious cycle. Possible maintenance insomnia causes include:

  • Mental health conditions
  • Asthma or other respiratory condition
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Periodic limb movement disorder
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, each of the four types of insomnia can significantly damage the quality of your life and ability to function normally. That said, it is crucial that you consult your doctor if you suspect you may have insomnia, regardless of the type.

A doctor will help you identify the type of insomnia you suffer from and possibly the underlying cause of your condition. Of course, based on the type and the cause a doctor will be able to provide the right treatment option for you.