Learn the Types of Insomnia and Their Causes

Insomnia is defined as difficulties to fall asleep or stay asleep (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.). The prevalence of insomnia is on the rise, with short-term issues being reported by 30% of adults and chronic issues being reported by 10% (American Sleep Association, n.d.). Insomnia has been linked to various psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression, as well as medical disorders such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease (Sateia, M. & Nowell, P., 2004). Further, in more recent research, sleep quality was shown to be linked to ‘cleaning’ of the brain. During deeper stages of sleep, the brain uses the lymphatic system to clear toxic proteins and waste. Some of these toxic proteins, like Tau and Beta-amyloid, are linked to neurodegenerative disorders (Hollenbeck, A., 2019). Therefore, it is important to identify insomnia and properly treat it in order to restore the quality of sleep. Here are some different types of insomnia:

Acute Insomnia: a brief period of time that one experiences difficulty sleeping. It is generally caused by times of higher stress or traveling, and tends to resolve on its own (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.).

Chronic Insomnia: This type is defined by long-term difficulties with falling asleep or staying asleep. It must occur a minimum of three nights a week for three months or longer to be considered chronic (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.).

Comorbid Insomnia: when insomnia occurs in conjunction with other conditions. Most commonly psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety are linked with insomnia, but medical conditions such as chronic pain can also disturb sleeping patterns (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.).

Onset Insomnia: this type occurs when an individual experiences trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.)…

Maintenance Insomnia: individuals will experience difficulty staying asleep. People with this type of insomnia describe waking up in the night and having trouble to fall back asleep (National Sleep Foundation, n.d.).

There are various ways to address insomnia. The more common methods of treatment generally involve medications or cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. These are not always effective in restoring quality of sleep. Neurofeedback therapy is a safe, non-invasive, and drug-free method to addressing insomnia. With neurofeedback treatments, we can attend to the source of your disrupted sleep by optimizing brain activity. A research study showed that people suffering from insomnia who underwent SMR-neurofeedback training had improved quality of sleep that was sustained for months after the treatments ceased (Hammer, B. U., Colbert, A. P., Brown, K. A., & Ilioi, E. C., 2011). Improving sleep quality is essential for the health of your brain and you.


American Sleep Association. (n.d.) Sleep and sleep disorder statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-statistics/

Hammer, B. U., Colbert, A. P., Brown, K. A., & Ilioi, E. C. (2011). Neurofeedback for insomnia: A pilot study of Z-score SMR and individualized protocols. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 36(4), 251-64. DOI: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.humber.ca/10.1007/s10484-011-9165-y

Hollenbeck, A. (2019). Depth of sleep may impact Brain’s cleaning system. Laboratory Equipment, Retrieved from http://ezproxy.humber.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.humber.ca/docview/2187360153?accountid=11530

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). What are the types of insomnia? Retrieved from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-insomnia/different-types-insomnia

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). What is insomnia? Retrieved from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-insomnia

Sateia, M. & Nowell, P. (2004). Insomnia. The Lancet, 364(9449), 1959-1973. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17480-1