Published: Jan. 10, 2007
Updated: Mar. 11, 2011
We spend approximately one-third of our lives asleep, but sometimes sleep can be elusive.
Almost everyone has experienced transient insomnia -- the occasional inability to fall asleep or waking up feeling unrefreshed. Thankfully, it's usually short-lived, lasting only a few days.
Chronic insomnia, however, lasts much longer. A common condition, it may be brought on by medical or psychiatric causes, such as colds, pain, or depression. But 10 percent of all insomnia occurs in the absence of any medical or psychiatric disorder and is called primary insomnia.
Primary insomnia seems to have a life of its own and often begins after someone has experienced a significant stressful event that may disrupt his or her sleeping pattern. To make up for lost sleep during this stressful period, the individual may develop poor sleep habits that perpetuate the insomnia long after the problem has passed.
Sticking to the following good sleep habits help most people sleep well:
If establishing these habits is either difficult for you or doesn't seem to be working, let your doctor know. Further assessment and treatment may be required.