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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Sleep Disorders Center


What is Insomnia?

photo of man who can't sleep

Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. It is one of the most common medical complaints and more than one-third of adults have insomnia at some time, while 10 to 15 percent report long-term (chronic) insomnia. Nearly 50 percent of people over 60 experience some degree of insomnia.

Insomnia can lead to daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and the inability to feel refreshed and rested in the morning. It can affect your mood, health, work performance and quality of life. Insomnia is also a key symptom of depression.

Should I take sleeping pills?

Medication such as long-acting or high-dose sedatives can make the problem worse instead of better, because strong prescription sedatives do not produce a natural, restful sleep. In addition, you can build up a dependence or tolerance of these drugs. Stopping these medications can cause a rebound insomnia and withdrawal.