Learn All about the Different Types of Insomnia

To address insomnia, it's important to take the factors that are causing it into account. Read this article to learn all about the types of insomnia.
Learn All about the Different Types of Insomnia

Last update: 14 November, 2020

If you haven’t been able to sleep even though you’re tired, you’ve probably suffered from insomnia. Overall, insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders in the general population. This disorder consists of a reduced ability to sleep. Typically, it can manifest itself in several ways that result in different types of insomnia.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the types of insomnia.

Types of insomnia

Overall, doctors classify insomnia is as follows depending on what causes it:

1. Primary

This is when the patient’s insomnia has no clear cause. Overall, about 10% of the population suffers from this disorder.

Also, this type of insomnia can also be subdivided into different types, depending on the manifestation and source of the problem:

  • Idiopathic insomnia. This originates in childhood. Typically, it’s related to bad sleeping habits.
  • Psychophysiological insomnia. This type is characterized by high psychophysiological activation levels associated with sleep onset. Generally, the sufferer is very concerned about their sleep problem and makes great efforts to try to sleep every night.

2. Secondary or comorbid insomnia

Next, this means that the patient’s insomnia has a clear cause. In addition to treating it, the medical professionals must take its cause, other disorders the patient suffers from, and even its consequences into account.

Also, you may enjoy the following article: 7 Good Habits for Fighting Insomnia and Resting Better

The types of insomnia according to their duration

1. Transient

A sleepy man rubbing his eyes.

First of all, transient insomnia lasts less than one month. It’s the most common and widespread in the population. Often, it’s associated with stressors that trigger it. Some of these factors are sudden schedule changes and family, work, or personal problems.

Typically, the sufferer starts sleeping normally again when their source of stress disappears.

2. Short-term or acute insomnia

Next, this insomnia lasts between one to three months. Sometimes, it’s related to stressful life events.

Generally, the situations that cause it to last longer. These include the loss of a loved one, a breakup, or a serious illness. In addition, the affected person likely has to deal with other problems such as anxiety, stress, and low mood.

3. Chronic insomnia

In this case, the sufferer has a long-term difficulty falling or staying asleep. This situation affects their daytime functioning.

Generally, this difficulty falling asleep or enjoying uninterrupted sleep affects them more than three times a week and lasts for at least three months. Unfortunately, those affected not only don’t get enough sleep. However, they also usually have emotional, mental, and physical difficulties during the day.

Types of insomnia: Classification according to symptoms

A man who fell asleep in front of his desk.

1. Onset insomnia

Typically, this occurs when people simply have a hard time falling asleep at bedtime. However, this type of insomnia is more common in young people. In addition, it’s usually linked to medical problems, substance abuse, or psychological or psychiatric problems. These include anxiety disorders.

2. Maintenance insomnia

Next, this kind of insomnia is characterized by the inability to stay asleep. The people who suffer from it wake up several times during the night. On the other hand, they may wake up for long periods of time.

3. Types of insomnia: Terminal insomnia

Finally, terminal insomnia occurs in the mornings. It makes the sufferer wake up extra early. Normally, the affected person wakes up at least two hours earlier than usual. Once this occurs, they can’t go back to sleep.

Typically, terminal insomnia typically accompanies a depressive disorder.


Overall, to address insomnia, it’s important to take the factors that are causing it into account. You may need to change inappropriate behaviors and habits. However, you also have to deal with the unhealthy thoughts that concern you and reduce your high emotional activation. If this is the case, therapy may be very helpful.

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