People who suffer from insomnia know the agony it causes. Some spend endless nights staring at the ceiling, with each tick of the clock reminding them that tomorrow will be another unpleasant foggy day. Most people think that “insomnia” is a single uniform problem but insomnia itself is not a sleep disorder, but rather a set of four distinctly different types of sleep disruptions.

It is important to differentiate the types of insomnia when seeking treatment. This is so weary sufferers can find an option that targets their specific problem. The four types of insomnia are:

1. Difficulty falling asleep is sometimes called “sleep onset insomnia.” It affects people who have trouble shutting down their brains and are easily distracted. They tend to “over-analyze” or “obsess” on the days events or focus on external distractions such as outside noises or physical discomfort. For example, instead of falling asleep at their desired time of 10 o’clock, they might spend 2 or 3 hours trying to sleep but not actually fall asleep until 1am.

2. Other people suffer from trouble falling back to sleep. These individuals have no problem falling asleep, but if they wake up during the night they have tremendous difficulty falling back asleep. For example, a person who has been peacefully sleeping for several hours wakes to the sound of a barking dog. Once they’ve awakened, it is extremely challenging for them to get back to sleep.

3. Waking too early is another type of insomnia. These folks wake up prematurely often an hour or two before the alarm goes off. People with this type of insomnia feel like they are being “cheated” out of a full and satisfying night's sleep. For example, they have the alarm set for 6am but spontaneously awaken at 4:15 each morning unable to return to sleep. They lay in bed feeling powerless until the alarm goes off.

4. Insufficient amount of sleep describes when someone can’t obtain more than a few hours of sleep at night no matter what they do. Sometimes this severe lack of sleep is temporary; triggered by a traumatic event such as a death in the family, a divorce or separation. In other cases though, it is not directly connected with any specific event and can go on for years. Sadly, some people accept being sleep deprived as something they have to live with.

If untreated, insomnia will often get worse. Repeated disruptions in sleep can lead to negative thoughts. For example, a person who has awakened at 3:00 am for the third night in a row may think, “Oh no, here we go again”. This negative thought increases their stress about returning to sleep making sleep more and more difficult to achieve. Over time, they learn to expect another sleepless night. Therefore, when left untreated, the pattern of negative thinking which often accompanies insomnia can also exacerbate the problem.

Many people who suffer with insomnia learn to live with it instead of seeking treatment. In 2007, 64 million Americans were affected by insomnia but these numbers are rapidly rising during these uncertain times. Chronic sleep-deprivation increases the risk for accidents, low productivity, work burnout, anxiety, irritability, marital strife, and high blood pressure. Since it is critical to get help, identifying the specific type of insomnia makes stopping it much easier.

Author's Bio: 

About Benjamin Moss:

Benjamin Moss is a clinical hypnotherapist who has helped people from all over the world overcome sleep difficulties. During the past twenty years he as accrued over 20,000 hours of clinical experience and is recognized as an expert in the techniques of progressive relaxation, guided imagery and subconscious reprogramming. His Sleep Well Program was developed and refined during thousands of one-on-one sessions with his clients. For more information, please visit our website at