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If you often have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or enjoying a restful night’s sleep, you may be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder defined as the perception or complaint of not enough or poor-quality sleep because of one or more of the following:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Non-refreshing sleep

Insomnia can be short-term (acute), lasting from one night to several weeks. It can come and go (intermittent). Or it can last a long time (chronic). Insomnia is considered chronic when it occurs three or more nights a week for one month or more.

Insomnia: what you should know

These are some of the telltale symptoms of insomnia:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Anxiety or frustration about sleep
  • Attention, concentration or memory problems

Research by sleep specialists at Rush, along with nationwide research, has found that insomnia usually occurs in combination with other factors:

  • Medical conditions, such as asthma, arthritis, cancer or heart failure
  • The use of certain medications or alcohol
  • The environment
  • Psychiatric disturbances, such as anxiety disorders and depression

How can I get help for insomnia?

If you experience insomnia that lasts for more than a few days, talk to your doctor so the underlying cause can be identified, if possible, then treated. Your doctor may refer you to the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center at Rush for further evaluation and treatment.

If you have loud, irregular snoring, jerking legs or pauses in breathing, in addition to other symptoms of insomnia, talk to your doctor. These symptoms may be related to sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition.