In order to understand insomnia, we must first recognize that insomnia doesn’t always mean not sleeping enough.
Do you take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep? Do you wake up multiple times during the night and find it impossible to fall back asleep? Or do you wake up feeling exhausted, irritable, and unable to focus in the morning, even though you slept for 8 hours? If any or the above is true, you may have insomnia.
Do you know that 50% of people with clinical insomnia sleep more than 6 hours a night on average?
Clinical insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more). According to Spielman’s 3 P’s Model, there are 3 sets of factors contributing to insomnia: predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors.
- Predisposing factors are contributors that increase our baseline risk for developing insomnia. They are often outside our control, and are associated with genetics and other pre-existing conditions. The good news is predisposing factors are usually not sufficient to cause insomnia on their own.
- Precipitating factors are the triggers for the first few sleepless nights. They are typically short-term stressors such as catching a flu or having a bad day at work. More serious stressors include traumatic events or developing a serious medical condition. You might expect sleep to recover to normal once precipitating factors are resolved, but this is not the case for chronic insomnia.
- Perpetuating factors are the reasons why a few nights of poor sleep turn into months (and even years) of sleeplessness. The habits that we develop to cope with insomnia in the short-term end up messing with our sleep in the longer-term.