Insomnia (and Primary Insomnia)




Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, characterized by non-restorative sleep or difficulty falling or staying asleep.


Primary Insomnia
The term primary insomnia is used to describe insomnia that is unrelated to another condition.   Insomnia is associated with medical and/or psychological conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression, substance use).   According to the DSM-IV, Primary Insomnia is only diagnosed if the insomnia lasts 1 month or more.




Cognitive Factors

The causes of insomnia vary greatly. 
Cognitive causes have to do with worry.  An anxiety sufferer might have unrealistic expectations about falling asleep or maintaining sleep.  Sufferers might believe that a lack of sleep will be more disruptive than it realistically is.


Catastrophic about how “bad” tomorrow will be without sleep tends to prolong the worry.  Some people with health anxiety or obsessive-compulsive thoughts may worry about their sleep hygiene and what this could mean to their health. 


Behavioral Factors

Sleeping erratically
Not maintaining a regular sleep schedule
Associating the bedroom with insomnia


Physical / Biological Factors

Issues with the limbic system
Poor temperature regulation
Certain medications can cause insomnia



Medications such as Benzodiazepines, over-the-counter sleep meds, and other sedatives have been used to treat insomnia.  This is best used as a short-term solution.  Prolonged use can cause dependence and withdrawal. Self-medicating with substances such as alcohol or marijuana can also lead to dependence and withdrawal.


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