Everything you need to know!

Types of Insomnia

  • Primary Insomnia has no clear cause and is not linked to any other physiological or psychiatric cause such as another sleep disorder or depression.
  • Secondary Insomnia has a cause for example sleep apnoea, circadian rhythm disorders or emotional stress.

The Explanations

Spielman's 3P Model

There are 3 factors which are significant in insomnia:

  1. Predisposition
    Everyone has predisposition for insomnia but personality traits and age make this predisposition stronger in some individuals than others.
  2. Precipitating factors
    These factors interfere with the brain slowing down from daytime functioning level to sleeping level. They include:
    Environmental Factors - lights, noises and temperature interfere with the brain calming down to sleep. Also a change in location can boost brain activity which explains why people often do not sleep well in a different bed.
    Stress - Acute stress such as an exam will heighten your brain activity making it harder for it to slow down when sleep needs to occur. As acute stressors are only temporary sleep should return to normal afterwards. However Chronic stress, where the stressor remains, can lead to long-term insomnia.
    Bedtime Behaviour - Habits that and patterns that result in the calming of the brain for sleep. Poor bedtime behaviour is habits that interfere with this process.
  3. Perpetuation
    Bad habits mean insomnia continues. For example doing stimulating activities just before bed will mean the brain can't relax these include doing homework and watching TV or texting.
    A delayed bedtime or trying to go to bed earlier than normal after a delayed bedtime also slows down the brain in preparing for sleep.
    Taking naps during the day will also increase insomnia.

Cognitive Processes

A study found, using questionnaires, that there was a link between family conflict experienced by a child between the ages of 9 and 15 and insomnia occurring at the age of 18. It was suggested this was due the child developing high levels of anxiety resulting in them focusing on the family difficulties when trying to get to sleep.

The Cognitive approach offers treatments for insomnia.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy whereby they tackle the causes for anxiety at bedtime. People know they should fall asleep quickly and sleep for 7-8 hours and if they don't they won't be able to function properly and their quality of life will suffer. The therapy corrects these faulty thoughts by challenging them; As a result anxiety is reduced.
  • Relaxation Techniques whereby anxiety is reduced through progressive muscle relaxation and imagery techniques.


There is research to suggest that personality has no effect on insomnia.
They used four questionnaires to try to discover if there is a relationship between personality and sleep patterns. Two measuring personality including extraversion and neuroticism through the Eysenck Personality Inventory and the level of potential manic-type symptoms through the Attitude to Life Questionnaire. Two measuring quality of sleep including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Sleep Timing Questionnaire.
They found there is no correlation between personality variables and sleep but people with manic-type behaviour stay up later and people who scored highly on neuroticism had lower quality of sleep.

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