Insomnia is a disorder characterized by sleeplessness and sleep disturbances. It is divided generally into two main categories: sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia.
Sleep onset insomnia is the inability to fall asleep naturally. Sleep maintenance insomnia is the inability to stay asleep or to resume sleep after waking in the middle of the sleep cycle. A person may experience both sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia, which leads to both insufficient and poor sleep.
Insomnia can be categorized further as acute or chronic. Acute insomnia is self-limiting, meaning it runs its course in a few weeks or months and ends without being treated. Chronic insomnia lasts longer than three months and needs to be treated.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Over-the-counter (OTC) sleeping aids:
Most OTC sleeping pills contain antihistamines that cause drowsiness.
- Melatonin supplements
- Benzodiazepines have sedative-hypnotic effects used in the treatment of short-term insomnia.
- Non-benzodiazepine drugs act similarly to benzodiazepines but have less adverse effects, and lower risk of abuse and dependence.