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Primary Insomnia

Facts and definition of primary insomnia

Patient Comments
  • Primary insomnia is sleeplessness or the perception of poor quality sleep that is not caused by medical or psychiatric diseases, conditions, genetics, or illnesses; or environmental causes (such as drug abuse, medication, shift-work).
  • There are two classifications of insomnia; primary and secondary.
  • Primary insomnia is caused by one of the following:
  • Psychophysiological causes
  • Idiopathic (no known cause)
  • Sleep state misperception
  • Secondary insomnia is caused by another disease, condition, or illness, for example:
  • Signs and symptoms of primary insomnia may include:
    • Problems falling asleep and/or staying awake
    • Sleep that varies, for example, one night of good sleep that comes after several nights of difficult sleep.
    • Daytime sleepiness
    • Problems performing normal daily functions, for example, difficulties with memory or concentration, or problems at school or work.
    • Eye redness
    • Irritability or moodiness
    • Concerns about sleep
  • Primary insomnia is diagnosed using the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 2nd Edition (ICSD-2) classification criteria.
  • Primary insomnia is treated with medication and lifestyle changes including sleep hygiene and eliminating alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia refers to insufficient or poor-quality sleep. It is not defined by a specific length of time spent in sleep but upon the lack of sleep relative to an individual’s needs. Primary insomnia is insomnia that occurs without a known medical, psychiatric, or environmental reason.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/26/2016
Medical Author:

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Primary Insomnia:

Primary Insomnia - Exprience

Please share your experience with primary insomnia.

Primary Insomnia - Medications & Side Effects

What medications have you found effective or not effective in helping your insomnia? What side effects have you experienced?

Primary Insomnia - Symptoms

What are the symptoms of your primary insomnia?

Primary Insomnia - Home Treatment

What home treatment worked for your primary insomnia?

Women with insomnia

Symptoms of Insomnia

Some people with insomnia may have difficulty falling asleep or they waking up frequently during the night. Often the problem begins with stress. Then, as you begin to associate going to sleep with your inability to sleep, the problem may become chronic. Daytime problems and symptoms caused by insomnia include:

  • Poor concentration and focus
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Impaired motor coordination (being uncoordinated)
  • Irritability and impaired social interaction
  • Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Primary Insomnia »

Primary insomnia is sleeplessness that is not attributable to a medical, psychiatric, or environmental cause.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary