What is insomnia?

Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or waking up earlier than «desired or needed»; in a broader sense, it is the sensation of unrefreshing sleep associated with a deterioration in the quality of life.

It is a debilitating and often invisible disease affecting millions of people worldwide. We have all had insomnia at some point in our lives. That is why it is the most frequent sleep disorder. It can be a symptom (like being hungry or needing to go to the toilet) or a disease. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY REPORTED CONDITIONS IN CLINICAL PRACTICE.

Insomnia is chronic when it lasts over time, at least three months. It can interfere with the individual’s daily activity with severe physical and mental consequences.

Sleep Care Clinics


This international classification of sleep disorders summarises the disorders into the following categories






Medical - Psychiatric disorders

Sleep Care Clinics


  • Fatigue.
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Microsleeping.
  • Lack of attention and concentration.
  • Memory loss, problems with learning.
  • Decreased motor skills.
  • Poor job, academic, social, sexual (decreased libido or sexual impotence), and family performance.
  • Irritability, moodiness, depression or anxiety.
  • Hormonal problems, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, arrhythmias and heart attacks.
  • Nocturia.
  • Musculoskeletal pain and headache.

What are the effects of a sleep disorder on health?

Sleep disorders in childhood have essential consequences on growth, development, cognition or cardiometabolic risk that are impossible to eliminate, modify or mitigate.

If we do not sleep or sleep poorly, deep tiredness and inability to carry out our activities will result. Not only being unable to work or study but also the functions of all our organs and cells. Our heart and circulatory system, digestion, brain, skin, etc. Thus, insomnia alters all our organs.

Memory and learning: of the earliest signs of sleep deprivation, memory loss, difficulty acquiring new learning, decreased motor skills and mood changes, such as irritability, are observed.

Sensory information processing: when we sleep, we have a greater capacity to detect and process external information. Particularly the auditory and visual.

Dreams: Dreams occur whenever we sleep. We generally remember those that happen when we wake up in the deepest sleep phases. Dreams can recreate stimuli that we have experienced while awake and sensory stimuli that we perceive while we sleep. For this reason, sleeping without stimuli, such as the television, is very important.

Energy conservation: one of the main goals of sleep is to conserve energy. While we sleep, our body is very active in acquiring, storing, preserving, saving and organising energy. For example, our digestive system absorbs nutrients, our respiratory system is automated, and there is a relative increase in respiration. In addition, our hormonal system rationalises our metabolism and defines how we use the nutrients we acquire. That is why disorders as severe as obesity and altered growth are closely related to inadequate sleep.

Cardiovascular functions, blood pressure and heart rate drop, and there is vasodilation, cerebral blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain (increases particularly in more active areas during sleep).

Hormones (growth hormone, prolactin and other sex hormones, thyrotropin or TSH that stimulates the thyroid, adrenocorticotropin or ACTH, cortisol, melatonin, renin, etc.), body temperature, metabolism and homeostasis, and consequently life, are influenced by the physiological modifications that occur or are induced by sleep.

Haven said this, we can infer that some characteristic symptoms or signs of sleep disorders: tiredness, poor work, academic, social, sexual and family performance, irritability, bad mood, depression or anxiety, memory loss, learning problems and attention-related problems to growth and development, brain development, not remembering dreams, nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, arrhythmias, heart attacks.