Insomnia | Overview


What is insomnia?

Insomnia (say: “in-sohm-nee-uh”) is a sleep disorder. People who have insomnia may not be able to fall asleep. They may wake up during the night and not be able to fall back asleep, or they may wake up too early in the morning. Many people have insomnia. Chronic insomnia is when your sleeping problem lasts for 4 weeks or longer.

Is insomnia a serious problem?

Getting enough sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Insomnia can affect you mentally and physically. It can make you feel tired, depressed and irritable. It can also make it hard for you to concentrate or perform tasks during the day. If you have insomnia, you may also worry about being able to sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, you’re at increased risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

How much sleep do I need?

Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. You know you're getting enough sleep if you don't feel sleepy during the day. The amount of sleep you need stays about the same throughout adulthood. However, sleep patterns may change as you age. For example, older people may sleep less at night and take naps during the day.


Nonpharmacologic Management of Chronic Insomnia by Parul Harsora, MD and Jennifer Kessmann, MD (American Family Physician January 15, 2009,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 07/96