What is chronic insomnia?

Updated: Sep 11, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Chronic insomnia lasting more than 1 month can be associated with a wide variety of medical and psychiatric conditions and typically involves conditioned sleep difficulty. However, it is believed to occur primarily in patients with an underlying predisposition to insomnia (see Pathophysiology). The different subtypes of chronic insomnia are described in Etiology.

Chronic insomnia has numerous health consequences (see Prognosis). For example, patients with insomnia demonstrate slower responses to challenging reaction-time tasks. [12] Moreover, patients with chronic insomnia report reduced quality of life, comparable to that experienced by patients with such conditions as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Quality of life improves with treatment but still does not reach the level seen in the general population. [13]

In addition, chronic insomnia is associated with impaired occupational and social performance and an absenteeism rate that is 10-fold greater than controls. Furthermore, insomnia is associated with higher health care use, including a 2-fold higher frequency of hospitalizations and office visits. In primary care medicine, approximately 30% of patients report significant sleep disturbances.

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