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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is chronic insomnia?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 5


    Dr Melissa Ree

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Melissa Ree is an Insomnia and Anxiety specialist. She has worked in both clinical and research roles at private psychiatric hospitals and Universities in … View Profile

    Chronic Insomnia is a common sleep disorder (estimates are around 10% of the population are sufferers) that is characterised by difficulty either falling alseep, staying asleep, or waking too early, or feeling that the sleep was unrestorative. The poor sleep affects daytime functioning. The term chronic refers to the difficulty being on-going rather than short term (acute). For a diagnosis of insomnia the problem must have been present at least 4 nights a week for a month or longer. However, in much of the research investigating chronic insomia, partcipants must have been suffering with the problem for at east 6-12 months.

    Your GP is the best first point of contact if you think you may be suffering with chronic insomnia and they may treat the problem or refer you to a sleep physician or psychologist with experience in sleep disorders.

    Hope this helps.

  • 3


    Dr Peter Solin

    Respiratory & Sleep Medicine Physician

    Dr Peter Solin is a highly trained authority in sleep disorders medicine and respiratory medicine, having graduated from Melbourne University in 1987 and undertaken specialist … View Profile

    Persisting difficulties in falling asleep or staying asleep is termed chronic insomnia.  It tends to be defined as problems occurring most days of the week and lasting more than three weeks.
    However this definition isn't that useful because as we know, insomnia may affect us a few days per week, but not others, and more or less at other times.  Often people don't sleep well on a Sunday night if they've got a stressful Monday the next morning.  Business people don't sleep well during tax time!
    So the best way to think about chronic insomnia is difficulty in falling or maintaining sleep on a weekly basis, on two or more nights per week, for at least one month, with no obvious remedy in sight.  Another way of thinking about chronic insomnia is that it is present if you tried to overcome insomnia with initial manoeuvres or strategies and they haven't helped.
    There is a good chance that insomnia can be overcome without the use of pills.  Useful information can be found on the Sleep Health Foundation website.

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