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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is characterized by an inability to initiate or maintain sleep. It may also take the form of early morning awakening in which the individual awakens several hours early and is unable to resume sleeping. Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep may often manifest itself as excessive daytime sleepiness, which characteristically results in functional impairment throughout the day. Before arriving at a diagnosis of primary insomnia, the health care provider will rule out other potential causes, such as other sleep disorders, side effects of medications, substance abuse, depression, or other previously undetected illness. Chronic psychophysiological insomnia (or “learned” or “conditioned” insomnia) may result from a stressor combined with fear of being unable to sleep. Individuals with this condition may sleep better when not in their own beds. Health care providers may treat chronic insomnia with a combination of the use of sedative-hypnotic or sedating antidepressant medications, along with behavioral techniques to promote regular sleep.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation below have noted that sleep changes as we age, although there is no ‘magic number’ as individual sleep needs vary.  We all have different sleep needs and it may change as we age.

AgeRecommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns
16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children11–12 hours a day
School-aged childrenAt least 10 hours a day
Teens9–10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly)7–8 hours a day

For further information and a more comprehensive discussion of recommended hours of sleep for different age groups—please see the National Sleep Foundation Web site at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/site

Insomnia Severity Survey

To find out how severe your insomnia, take the Insomnia Severity Index.