What is insomnia?

Insomnia is, simply put, the inability to fall asleep when desired and/or the inability to stay asleep for the desired amount of time; it may be a varying combination of the two.  To be considered true insomnia, the sleeplessness must also be accompanied by an adverse effect on performance during one’s waking hours. 

That last point is important.  In other words, if you feel like you’re losing sleep but still perform just fine when awake, you may not have insomnia.  If you think you might have insomnia but feel no grogginess, fatigue, or irritability when awake, then you may just need less sleep than you think you need.

That said, however, insomnia is still a very common condition.  Those that do suffer problems stemming from an inability to sleep might take some solace in this fact:  the majority of us describe symptoms of insomnia at some point in our lives. 

In fact, a poll by the National Sleep Foundation found 51% of adults in the U.S. experienced symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week or more.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.  Another comprehensive survey found less than half of adults worldwide are sleeping well every night. 

Of those reporting trouble sleeping, half suffer chronic regular insomnia that can last for years or even decades.  Left untreated, chronic insomniacs may almost forget what a good night’s sleep feels like.  Sleeplessness, restlessness, fatigue become the norm.

This doesn’t have to be you!  The STS will show you how to naturally improve and powerfully strengthen your sleep system to the point where you stand a good chance of becoming a normal sleeper again.  


            Types of insomnia

 Sleep experts recognize two major types of insomnia

            Primary insomnia refers to sleep problems not caused by a physiological or psychiatric disorder.  In the STS, we may refer to this as common insomnia, learned insomnia, conditioned insomnia, or evolved insomnia.  These broad terms in the STS all describe the same basic condition:  sleeping problems with no apparent medical or psychiatric basis.

Millions of people have a form of primary insomnia that is often characterized by excessive worry about sleep.  Known as psychophysiological insomnia, this condition is relatively common.  Although reliable survey data are limited, some 15% of patients in sleep clinics have some form of psychophysiological insomnia. 

It’s very important to understand that primary insomnia is often associated with some underlying issue – psychological, behavioral, or physical – that does not have a true medical or psychiatric basis.  To effectively address primary insomnia therefore requires getting to the root causes that are not medical or psychiatric – something that sleeping pills can’t do.  Identifying, understanding, and constructively addressing these root causes are focal points of the STS.

            Comorbid insomnia, sometimes known as secondary insomnia, refers to sleeping problems associated with medical or psychiatric issues. 

Restless leg syndrome, arthritis, back pain, and obstructive sleep apnea are examples of medical issues that can be connected to sleep problems.

Psychiatric issues associated with insomnia include depression, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse disorders.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, surveys suggest that approximately 2- 3% of the general population has insomnia due to medical or psychiatric conditions.  This percentage represents a relatively small minority of all people with sleeping problems.  However, determining whether or not there are any accompanying issues to be addressed is one of the most important reasons to see your doctor before starting the STS. 

In order to successfully treat comorbid forms of insomnia, the associated medical or psychiatric issues must be addressed with a health care professional.