Symptoms and Effects of Primary Insomnia

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Symptoms and Effects of Primary Insomnia

The APA Dictionary of Pscyhology defines insomnia as a "difficulty in initiating or maintaining a restorative sleep that results in fatigue, the severity of persistence of which causes clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning" (VandenBos, 2007, p. 485). The pineal gland in the brain produces melatonin that works with ‘circadian’ rhythms, which in time help control sleep (Gillam, 2009). By use of polysomnography, researchers find that a possible cause of insomina is a longer period of stage 1 sleep and shorter periods of stages 3 and 4. The disorder predominantly exists among young adults and middle-aged people. "Population surveys indicate a 1-year prevalence of insomnia complaints of 30%-45% in adults. The prevalence of primary insomnia is approximately 1%-10% in the general adult population and up to 25% in the elderly” (American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2000, p. 601).

The following conditions are commonly confused with insomnia because of their similarities: "short sleepers" have less problems achieving sleep than people who have been diagnosed with insomnia, but the “short sleepers” can develop an insomnia style of sleep if their condition is unknown; people with circadian rhythm sleep disorder only experience symptoms of insomnia at times when not accustomed to sleeping; breathing disorders such as sleep apnea mainly associates with trouble breathing (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).


primary insomnia must not occur along with another mental or sleep disorder or during substance use. In other words, insomnia symptoms must occur independently from other factors. According to the DSM-IV-TR (2000), primary insomnia ...

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... Viorel, L., Vasile, B. (2009). Treating primary insomnia: A comparative study of self-help methods and progressive muscle relaxation., Cognitive and behavioral Psychotherapies, 9, 67-82.

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

Douthwaite, A. H. (1958). Drug treatment of disease: Insomnia. The British Medical Journal, 2, 1347-1349.

Gillam, T. (2009). Understanding primary insomnia in older people. Nursing Older People, 21, 30-33.

Okajima, I., Komada, Y., & Inoue, Y. (2011). A meta-analysis on the treatment effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for primary insomnia. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 9, 24-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8425.2010.00481.x

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed.). (2007). APA Dictionary of Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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