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What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder affecting a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This sleep problem affects millions of people worldwide, and some factors that may cause or increase the risk of insomnia include stress, jet lag, and even dieting.

Insomnia may be caused by other factors like:

  • poor sleep habits
  • eating too late in the evening
  • not sleeping on a regular schedule
  • mental health disorders
  • medications, such as antidepressants or pain medications
  • conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and asthma
  • chronic pain
  • restless leg syndrome
  • obstructive sleep apnea

Adults need at least 7–9 hours of sleep every 24-hour cycle, depending on their age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

People who experience sleep problems may struggle with poor sleep for one or two days, but it can last longer.

You can have:

  • maintenance insomnia which causes the inability to stay asleep
  • onset insomnia which causes difficulties in falling asleep
  • acute insomnia which lasts a day or days, or weeks
  • chronic insomnia which lasts a month or longer

Struggling with it for too long can lead to certain health problems including:

  • stroke
  • weak immune system
  • sensitivity to pain
  • inflammation
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • confusion and frustration
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