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What Are the 3 Types of Insomnia: Causes & Treatments




Insomnia is a global issue, impacting millions of people and wreaking havoc on their lives. People with insomnia may have trouble falling asleep or staying that way through the night, resulting in poor-quality rest, which can substantially reduce productivity levels, ruin moods and harm general wellness.

The three types of insomnia are transient, acute, and chronic. Transient insomnia is the mildest form and typically lasts a few nights to less than one month. Acute insomnia is a more severe form of insomnia that lasts between one and six months.

Chronic insomnia is the most severe form and lasts more than six months. Let’s dive deeper into the three main types of insomnia and explore their telltale signs and potential causes.

Understanding About 3 Types of Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Insomnia is a condition that affects many, with three common variations: transient insomnia, acute insomnia and chronic insomnia.


All have their own distinct causes and symptoms as well as treatment options to help you get back on track for restful nights of sleep. Let’s explore them further.

1. Transient Insomnia

Transient insomnia is a temporary sleep disorder that can feel like being stuck in an endless cycle of tossing and turning, unable to catch some sleep. It usually lasts between one week or less to up to four weeks’ tops.

Causes of Transient Insomnia

The causes of transient insomnia are numerous, with stress being the most common factor. Stress can be due to work, relationships, or other life events. Anxiety is another factor that can lead to transient insomnia.


Constant worrying and the inability to relax can make it difficult to fall asleep. Depression also can significantly impact sleep patterns, leading to transient insomnia.

Major life changes like moving, starting a new job, or divorce can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, which can trigger transient insomnia. Grief is another factor affecting sleep patterns due to the sadness it brings.

Chronic pain, too, can make it challenging to fall asleep and stay asleep, contributing to transient insomnia. The consumption of alcohol, medication, or drugs can also affect sleep patterns and lead to transient insomnia.

Symptoms of Transient Insomnia


Transient insomnia exhibits several symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep. Individuals can also experience difficulty staying asleep and falling back asleep once awake.

Sleep loss can cause daytime impairment, affect concentration, and reduce daily productivity. This reduced productivity can be due to the non-restorative or poor quality of sleep experienced, leading to an overall feeling of exhaustion.

Treatment of Transient Insomnia

One treatment for transient insomnia is to adopt good sleep hygiene habits. This may involve avoiding caffeine before bed, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and using the bedroom only for sleeping.


Addressing the underlying stressors that may be causing transient insomnia, such as work or relationship issues, can help alleviate symptoms.

If these lifestyle adjustments do not help, sleep medications can be a way to get enough sleep at night. Sleep specialists or psychotherapists can further help by providing reassurance and guidance in managing stress and anxiety levels.

It is necessary to note, though, drugs should only be taken with medical supervision and guidance.

2. Acute Insomnia

Acute insomnia is a common sleep disorder lasting from one to six months in duration, typically affecting daily life and functioning.


Acute Insomnia Causes

Acute insomnia is typically caused by a stressful life event, such as the death of a loved one, a major job change, relationship problems, serious medical diagnosis, stopping medication or marijuana, or a pandemic.

Environmental factors, such as noise or light, and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed or surroundings, like a hotel or new home, can also disrupt sleep.

Physical discomfort, such as pain or inability to assume a comfortable position and certain medications or illnesses can also contribute to acute insomnia.


Symptoms of Acute Insomnia

Symptoms of acute insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, getting up too early in the morning, feeling tired upon waking, daytime fatigue, irritability and mood changes, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and digestive problems.

Treatment of Acute Insomnia

To treat acute insomnia, identifying and treating the underlying cause is essential. In cases where an underlying medical or psychiatric condition is the cause of acute insomnia, treating that condition may alleviate the sleep problem.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can help identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors contributing to insomnia.

Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and creating a comfortable sleep environment, can improve sleep quality.

If non-medical treatments are not effective, medication, such as benzodiazepines, may be prescribed to aid with sleep. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, leading to better sleep.

3. Chronic Insomnia

Chronic insomnia affects many in the long term, disrupting sustained sleep over a period of six months or more. Despite its far-reaching impact, effective ways exist to manage this condition and reclaim restful slumber.


Chronic Insomnia Causes

Chronic insomnia can result from various medical conditions. These include respiratory issues such as asthma and sleep apnea, chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome, and hormonal changes such as menopause. Also, neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Stress, anxiety, and depression are also culprits. Stimulants like caffeine, illicit drugs, and antidepressants, as well as lifestyle factors such as rotating work schedules, frequent travel across multiple time zones, physical inactivity, and a poor sleeping environment, can all contribute to chronic insomnia.

Symptoms of Chronic Insomnia


Chronic insomnia can lead to various symptoms, including difficulty falling and staying asleep, habitually waking up throughout the night, waking up too early and daytime sleepiness or grogginess.

An individual may still feel tired after a night’s sleep. Chronic insomnia also causes irritability, mood changes such as depression, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and increased mistakes and accidents.

Treatment of Chronic Insomnia

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for chronic insomnia. This therapy approach involves education about better sleep habits and teaching the individual to change beliefs and behaviors that interfere with their sleeping patterns.


Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, and guided meditation can reduce muscle tension and control breathing and heart rate.

Paradoxical intention involves focusing on staying awake in bed instead of expecting to fall asleep, which helps reduce worry and anxiety over being able to fall asleep.

Improve Your Sleep Hygiene & Identify Insomnia Types to Get Better Rest

Insomnia can occur for different reasons and in varying degrees of severity. Transient, acute, and chronic insomnia can cause significant disruption to your nighttime sleep, daytime functioning, and overall well-being.

Identifying the type of insomnia you are experiencing can help you and your healthcare provider to choose the right treatment plan.


To improve your sleep hygiene, avoid excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, establish a regular sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and create a sleep-friendly environment. If these don’t work, try slipping pills and talk to your doctor about other options.

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