A Guide To Insomnia

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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition characterized by repeated difficulty with sleep that happens even though you have time and opportunity for it. Sufferers may have issues getting to sleep (initiation), staying asleep (maintenance), or with overall quality of sleep.

Approximately 50% of adults experience occasional insomnia. 10% of people have chronic insomnia, which lasts over a period of months or years. Women and older adults are more likely to experience insomnia, but virtually anyone can have it.

Insomnia Symptoms and Associated Conditions

When diagnosing insomnia, doctors look for primary or secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is insomnia that appears by itself and is not caused by another condition or environmental problem.

Millions of people have secondary insomnia, where inability to sleep is caused by another factor. That can be an underlying condition like anxiety, depression, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, or heartburn. It could also be a substance: Certain medications, caffeine, or alcohol.

Insomnia sufferers may have problems sleeping most nights or every night. Impairment depends on extent of sleep. Common insomnia symptoms include daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, issues regulating emotion, and memory lapses. Workplace and traffic accidents are also more likely.

Chronic insomnia can eventually cause systemic problems with the body. Sleep removes metabolic waste products from the brain and also plays a role regulating blood pressure. Severe, prolonged insomnia makes a variety of health problems more likely, from weight gain to cancer.

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Insomnia Medication and Treatments

Short-term acute insomnia does not require medical intervention. If someone is experiencing problems sleeping due to environmental factors like noise or light, physical discomfort, or short-term emotional distress, they are usually advised to make changes to the sleep environment.

In chronic insomnia, a sleep study is used. During a sleep study, the insomnia patient spends a night in a specialized sleep lab or sleeps at home while attached to specialized equipment. The equipment records physiological data that can be used to pinpoint the issue.

When insomnia is caused by another health condition, it usually goes away if that condition is under control. Chronic insomnia can be difficult to treat when caused by mental health or circadian rhythm disorder, a problem with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. In these cases, sleep-inducing medications are used.

Insomnia Recovery and Lifestyle Changes

Soon after insomnia diagnosis, many insomnia patients are advised to examine “sleep hygiene”: Factors like having a regular bedtime, leaving adequate time for sleep, reducing caffeine intake, and discontinuing smartphone use at night. These habits do not relieve severe insomnia on their own, but they can help an insomnia patient derive benefits from treatment.

Insomnia Medical Research

70% of those with insomnia still have it a year later, and 50% have it three years later. Since most insomnia treatment uses either approved hypnotic drugs or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, insomnia clinical research focuses on understanding the neurological mechanisms behind sleep and how to “prime” the body for sleep.

Current Insomnia Clinical Trials

The following list includes all current insomnia clinical trials registered with ClinicalTrials.gov. You are welcome to ask for additions to this list. To tell us about an unlisted insomnia clinical trial, just contact our team.


Millions of people experience insomnia, and it is generally understood as a growing problem. Since sleep is tied to all other body functions, insomnia is not just inconvenient: It is a profound quality of life issue. Insomnia clinical trials are key to understanding the most difficult insomnia cases, including those with no obvious cause. With further insomnia clinical research, more effective insomnia treatments can be found.

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