Doctors categorize insomnia in several ways to make it easier to understand and treat.
Acute vs. Chronic
Many adults experience insomnia for a short period of time (acute insomnia) at some point in their lives. If it does not improve after about three months (chronic insomnia), it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Primary vs. Secondary
Insomnia that develops on its own is called primary insomnia. Secondary insomnia is caused by or related to another condition -- for example, another sleep disorder like sleep apnea, depression, or anxiety, which are very common in people with insomnia.
Sleep Onset vs. Sleep Maintenance
Sleep onset insomnia describes difficulty falling asleep. Sleep maintenance insomnia describes difficulty staying asleep.
- Psychophysiological insomnia: This is the most common subtype of insomnia. People with psychophysiological insomnia usually feel tired, but when they try to sleep, they feel wide awake.
- Paradoxical insomnia: This rarer subtype of insomnia can be difficult to treat. Someone with paradoxical insomnia has an abnormal sense of being awake when they are actually asleep.