What Is Chronic Insomnia?

Written by: Haleo

Published on: April 2, 2024 | Reading time: ๐Ÿ• 4m

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What is chronic insomnia?

We have all experienced a night of tossing and turning, but for some people, sleep problems persist beyond occasional disruptions.
Chronic insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early at least 3 nights per week, for 3 months or longer. It is the most prevalent sleep disorder, affecting 10-15% of the adult population.

The impact of chronic insomnia is not limited to nighttime hours. Daytime consequences range from fatigue to impaired concentration and productivity to mood changes. These effects not only reduce quality of life but also lead to significant economic costs, with chronic insomnia estimated to cost the Canadian economy $1.9 billion annually.1

There are also significant physical and mental health risks associated with chronic insomnia,2 highlighting the importance of effective treatment. Chronic insomnia is linked to various health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and pain. Compared to people who sleep well, those with insomnia have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and substance use.

What causes chronic insomnia?

Some people simply have a vulnerability to insomnia due to predisposing factors such as a family history, an anxious personality, being female, and aging. These factors, however, do not guarantee the development of insomnia, and sleep problems can arise even in their absence.

Many people can identify a specific experience (precipitating factor) that triggered the onset of their insomnia, typically a stressful event or circumstance โ€“ a loss, illness, trauma, or major life change. While many recover from temporary sleep disruptions without any intervention, some slip into chronic insomnia as other factors come into play.

Perpetuating factors maintain insomnia over time. Disruptions to the biology that underlies our sleep-wake cycle and conditioned arousal, where the bedroom has become associated with sleeplessness and anxiety, are key factors that keep insomnia going.

What is the best treatment for chronic insomnia?

Medical experts worldwide recommend cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) as the go-to treatment for chronic insomnia.3 Unlike sleep medications, CBT-I gets at the factors that maintain insomnia, offering a safer and longer-lasting solution.

At HALEO, our CBT-I approach is designed to be convenient and effective. Our registered therapists, who are specially trained in treating insomnia, conduct personalized videoconference sessions. With the support of our mobile app, incorporating sleep-promoting therapy strategies into your routine becomes seamless.

Improving your sleep is not just about feeling better; it is essential to your overall health and well-being. If chronic insomnia is affecting you, take the first step toward better sleep with HALEO. Let us help you achieve a more restful and fulfilling life.

Learn more about: What is Insomnia?

Written by Cherie La Rocque, PhD, RPsych

1. Chaput, J.-P., Janssen, I., Sampasa-Kanyinga, H.,... Morin, C. M. (2023). Economic burden of insomnia symptoms in Canada. Sleep Health, 9(2), 185-189. Retrieved from: Economic burden of insomnia symptoms in Canada - ScienceDirect
2. Taylor, D. J., Lichstein, K. L., & Durrence, H. H. (2010). Insomnia as a health risk factor. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 1(4), 227-247. Retrieved from: Insomnia as a Health Risk Factor: Behavioral Sleep Medicine: Vol 1, No 4 (tandfonline.com)
3. Qaseem, A., Kansagara, D., Forciea, M. A., Cooke, M., & Denberg, T. D. (2016). Management of chronic insomnia disorder in adults: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(2). Retrieved from: Management of Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Adults: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians | Annals of Internal Medicine (acpjournals.org)

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