What is comorbid insomnia?

Updated: Sep 11, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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In 2005, the National Institutes of Health held a State of the Science Conference on the Manifestations of Chronic Insomnia in Adults. [15] This conference focused on the definition, classification, etiology, prevalence, risk factors, consequences, comorbidities, public health consequences, and available treatments and evidence of efficacy. A summary of this conference can be obtained at the NIH Consensus Development Program Web site.

It had been widely believed that most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary to another medical or psychiatric condition and can be addressed by effective treatment of that underlying condition. In fact, insomnia often persists despite treatment of the primary condition, and in certain cases, persistence of insomnia can increase the risk of relapse of the primary condition. Thus, clinicians need to understand that insomnia is a condition in its own right that requires prompt recognition and treatment to prevent morbidity and improve patients’ quality of life.

The conference report concluded, based on review of the literature and the panel experts, that the limited understanding of the mechanistic pathways precludes drawing firm conclusions about the nature of the associations between other conditions and insomnia, or the directions of causality. Furthermore, the conference members expressed concern that the term secondary insomnia may promote undertreatment. Therefore, they proposed the term comorbid insomnia.

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