How Many Hours of Sleep Is Insomnia?

Reviewed on 2/8/2022

Woman sitting in bed looking exhausted
There is no set number of hours of sleep that qualifies as having insomnia because each person has different sleep needs. Generally, adults are recommended to get seven hours of sleep each night.

Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder and it involves problems falling asleep or staying asleep despite adequate opportunity to do so.

There is no specific number of hours that define insomnia, since the amount of sleep that is enough for an individual can vary from person to person.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by American Psychiatric Association defines an insomnia disorder as one with a predominant complaint of dissatisfaction with sleep quantity or quality that causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, educational, academic, behavioral, or other important areas of functioning.

The recommended amount of sleep for adults for the best health and wellbeing is seven or more hours per night. Short sleep duration is defined as less than seven hours of sleep per 24-hour period.

What Are Symptoms of Insomnia?

Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Early-morning awakening with inability to return to sleep
  • Variable sleep
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased motivation or energy
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Persistent worry about sleep

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia may be caused by multiple factors. The main cause of insomnia is believed to be a state of mental and/or physical hyperarousal that interferes with falling asleep or staying asleep.

Causes of insomnia include:

SLIDESHOW

Sleep Disorders: Foods That Help Sleep or Keep You Awake See Slideshow

How Is Insomnia Diagnosed?

Sleep disorders are diagnosed with a patient history and physical exam. Tests or procedures that may be used to diagnose sleep disorders or to rule out other underlying conditions include: 

  • Daily sleep log
  • Sleep study (polysomnography)
  • Record of activity and movement with a monitor or motion detector, generally worn on the wrist throughout the day and night (actigraphy)
  • Home devices that monitor breathing, oxygen saturation, position, and heart rate
  • Home sleep apnea testing 
  • Melatonin sampling 
  • Core body temperature measurements 
  • Hormone tests
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain 
  • Electrocardiogram (“ECG”) 
  • Pulmonary function tests

What Is the Treatment for Insomnia?

Treatment for insomnia includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
  • Sleep education 
  • Sleep restriction or sleep compression  
  • Stimulus control 
  • Sleep hygiene 
  • Relaxation exercises 
  • Sleep medications, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription

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Reviewed on 2/8/2022
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/insomnia-beyond-the-basics?search=insomnia&source=search_result&selectedTitle=3~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=3

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/insomnia-treatments-beyond-the-basics?search=insomnia&topicRef=7717&source=see_link

http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-causes-insomnia

https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519704/table/ch3.t36/