Primary insomnia has symptoms that include difficulty falling asleep, remaining asleep, or receiving restorative sleep for a period no less than one month. For this diagnosis to apply, the disturbance in sleep must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important functions that does not occur exclusively during the course of another mental or medical disorder or during the use of alcohol, medication, or other substances.
Primary insomnia occurs in up to 10% of adults and up to 25% of elderly adults and appears slightly more common among women. The cause of primary insomnia can be different for each individual, but often involves a preoccupation with the inability to sleep or excessive worry about sleep, which in turns causes the individual to not sleep. Many people with insomnia report that they sleep better away from home, suggesting that conditioning related to the bedroom has occurred, and resulting in bouts of sleep while watching TV, being a passenger in a car, or other area not associated with the bedroom.
Primary insomnia is included in the diagnostic manual used by psychologists and psychiatrists because there are often behavioral and/or psychological components involved. Most people are not surprised to know that stress and emotional difficulties (e.g., depression and anxiety) negatively affect sleep. Treatment for this sleep disorder often involves relaxation and educating the individual about habits that will hinder or help his or her ability to sleep well at night and/or may involve treating any underlying emotional disturbance that might be interfering with the individualís sleep.
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