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Overview of insomnia in adults

Michael H Bonnet, PhD
Donna L Arand, PhD
Section Editor
Ruth Benca, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
April F Eichler, MD, MPH


Patients with insomnia have impaired daytime function due to difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, or waking up early in the morning without ability to return to sleep [1]. This occurs despite having adequate time and opportunity for sleep.

This topic provides a general overview of insomnia, including its definition, epidemiology, risk factors, and consequences. The clinical features, diagnosis and management of insomnia are discussed separately. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of insomnia in adults" and "Treatment of insomnia in adults".)


Insomnia is present when all three of the following criteria are met [1]:

A complaint of difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, or waking up too early. In children or individuals with dementia, the sleep disturbance may manifest as resistance to going to bed at the appropriate time or difficulty in sleeping without caregiver assistance.

The above sleep difficulty occurs despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep.

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 01, 2017.
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