Ever had a sleepless night? You stare at the clock wondering if you’ll ever fall asleep. Your mind fills with worry over how tired you’ll be the next day and whether or not your insomnia could be a sign of a larger problem.

For most of us, insomnia is a once-in-a-while thing. For others, it is a chronic problem. There are different types of insomnia that you could be experiencing, and which type of insomnia you’re suffering from will determine which treatment options are right for you.

Acute insomnia is short-term insomnia, usually lasting just one or two days at a time. Everyone experiences acute insomnia from time to time. It’s usually brought on by short-term life stress, lifestyle habits, poor sleep hygiene, illness or medication. If you’ve had a bad day full of worry and anxiety or you drank some caffeine after 3 p.m., you might experience acute insomnia. Simply practicing better sleep habits or learning new stress management skills is all you need to do to counteract acute insomnia.

Chronic insomnia is long-term insomnia occurring at least 3 nights a week for more than a month. Chronic insomnia is most often caused by emotional disturbances such as depression, anxiety, grief or chronic stress. It can also be caused by a chronic medical condition. Chronic insomnia is usually secondary insomnia, meaning that it is caused by some other chronic problem. To treat chronic insomnia, you need to treat the underlying emotional or medical condition.

Primary insomnia is insomnia that is not caused by some other problem. Primary insomnia is linked to poor sleep habits. Not setting a sleep schedule, consuming stimulants close to bedtime, letting stress build up, and unhealthy lifestyle habits such as poor diet and exercise can all contribute to primary insomnia.Secondary insomnia is insomnia that is caused by another condition. The problem could be an emotional disorder or a physical medical issue.

If you’re experiencing acute, primary insomnia, simple sleep habits can make a big difference. Practicing good sleep hygiene and focusing on healthy lifestyle choices is often all you need. If your insomnia is chronic and secondary, you might need to speak with a medical professional to determine the source of the problem and possible treatment options. A good night’s sleep is essential for good health, so, if insomnia seems to be a continuing problem for you, it’s important to take steps to get the sleep you need.

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