September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Insomnia is a symptom that can accompany several sleep, medical and psychiatric disorders, characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia is typically followed by functional impairment while awake.

Both organic and non-organic insomnia without other cause constitute a sleep disorder, primary insomnia. One definition of insomnia is “difficulties initiating and/or maintaining sleep, or nonrestorative sleep, associated with impairments of daytime functioning or marked distress for more than 1 month….”

“…Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month.”


“According to researchers, those people who always struggle to fall asleep are at risk of premature death. The early deaths due to ongoing insomnia are autonomous from additional persistent illnesses like diabetes or heart disease that would ordinarily complicate insomnia. This data was revealed from a new investigation and introduced at a recent symposium on sleep.”


“Sleep duration has been linked to (increased) mortality, and a lot of insomniacs have short sleep duration. We wondered if this could be one of the mechanisms by which short sleep duration leads to mortality,” Ms. Finn, who presented the study, told Medscape Medical News.

“We’ve been studying these people for 20 years, and we have a lot of data on them,” Ms. Finn noted.

“People with insomnia are fatigued. [Higher mortality could result] if they have a chronic condition and they don’t follow-up on treatment [because of the fatigue],” said Ms. Finn.

“People often look at [insomnia] as a nuisance. This [research] is saying, this needs to be taken seriously. And doctors need to look for the root causes of insomnia. There are some new pharmacotherapies that work on specific kinds of insomnia, whether it’s maintaining sleep, falling asleep, or behavioral [issues]. We need to look at those root [causes] and take them seriously,” said Ms. Finn.

“It’s much more cleanly structured data [than previous studies], and the participants have been very well characterized. It reaffirms our belief that insomnia is bad and we should be looking into it more,” Dr. Schulman told Medscape Medical News.

“One would hope that by treating the insomnia [the patient would have an improved outcome]. It’s theoretical, but certainly worth investigating,” Dr. Schulman added.


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