What is insomnia?

Sleep is one of the most important and natural functions that human beings need on a daily basis. It is also one of the most vulnerable functions because of the physical and outside factors that prevent us from resting. One out of three Occidental people suffers from insomnia.

What is insomnia?

+ Sleep helps the mind and body to rejuvenate and restore energy used during the day, to help keep us active and alert during our daily activities.

While we sleep we enter a periodic state of rest during which our consciousness of the world is suspended, allowing our bodies to rest up. Our brains have a number of functions, structures and “sleep centers” that regulate the cycle of sleep and wakefulness. At the same time, our bodies produce substances that when released into the blood stream, make us sleepy. When this process is altered –by stress, worries, disorders and physical ailments– we may suffer from insomnia.


∎ Acute/Transient Insomnia. Lasts from one night to a few days. It is often caused by temporary changes in our lives such as, travelling, changes in schedule, worries or arguments.

∎ Light Insomnia. It is caused by some illnesses and physical disorder, or by periods of circumstantial stress. Lasts no longer than three weeks.

∎ Chronic Insomnia. For specialists, this is a real sleep disorder. Occurs on most nights, causing anguish and lasts a month or more (sometimes years). According to the stages of sleep in which appears, insomnia can be classified as:

  1. Initial. Difficulty falling asleep; this is the most common symptom.
  2. Intermittent. Waking frequently during the night and having difficulty falling back to sleep.
  3. Terminal. Waking more than normal and not being able to fall back to sleep.


• When you don't sleep, or fail to pass through any stages of the sleep cycle.

• When you have difficulty reaching stages III and IV in the sleep cycle, making you sleep poorly and suffer from diurnal somnolence.

• When you sleep you can't reach rem , the stage in which you dream and which is necessary for the release of tensions and anxiety. Lack of rem can cause restlessness and emotional instability.

• When you frequently wake during the night, you feel fatigued as if you didn't rest.


The body enters different stages of sleep ranging from light sleep to a deep sleep state. The diagram illustrates a normal sleep pattern for young adults.

What are the stages of sleep?

Phase I

When you fall asleep, you enter a light sleep and your brain continues to be stimulated.

Phase II

The brain waves become slower and the nervous system blocks our ability to read sensory information, that helps us sleep. This type of sleep helps to rejuvenate our bodies, but is not enough to rest completely.

Phase III

The brain waves become even slower, inducing a deeper sleep. This is an essential stage to fully rest.

Phase IV

Deep sleep is the most intense stage of sleep, with brain waves slowing to the maximum. It is a fundamental stage to restore the body and the mental state.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: