Study Answers the Question: How Long Will I Have Insomnia?

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

If insomnia has just entered your life, or if you have been dealing with it for a while, you may be wondering exactly how long it will hang around. The thought of going one more night, week, or month without adequate sleep can be frightening and overwhelming.

The answer to how long insomnia can linger is not going to make you feel better. In fact, it's a little depressing.

In a study conducted by Canadian researchers, it was discovered that insomnia can be a persistent condition that can linger for up to three years. Of course, this is not the conclusion that insomniacs want to hear.

For the study, research was conducted over a three-year period and 388 individuals were monitored. The average age of the study group was 45, with 61 percent of participants being female.

Roughly two-thirds of the participants had insomnia symptoms. The other third had what is known as insomnia syndrome. This is the term used to describe individuals who have the symptoms of insomnia a minimum of three nights a week for a month.

The study monitored and evaluated the persistence, remission, and relapse of insomnia. The study found that:

  • 74 percent of participants had insomnia for at least 12 months,

  • 46 percent of participants had insomnia over the entire three years,

  • Remission occurred in 54 percent of the group,

  • A relapse was seen in 27 percent of the remission group.

This was the first study of its kind to research insomnia persistence, remission, and relapse rates. This study proves that insomnia can indeed be a persistent, chronic condition.

In fact, insomnia may linger well past the three years stated in the study since participants were no longer monitored once the study was completed. While it is difficult to predict whether someone will have short term or chronic insomnia, studies such as this can begin to shed some light onto those questions.

The cause of insomnia varies from one individual to another. Some causes are related to the physical—such as illness or injury, others are psychologically based, and other causes of insomnia can be due to bad sleeping habits,improper sleep hygiene, poor lifestyle choices, and more. Some cases of insomnia are easily treatable, others are not.

If you are dealing with insomnia, do not try to wait it out. Granted, your insomnia may be short-lived, but thre is the potential for it to linger for an extended period of time. The fact is, you don’t know the answer as to how long your insomnia will be with you. The quicker that your root cause of insomnia is discovered, the faster treatment options and/or lifestyle changes can be put in place to bring you into remission.*

Morin CM, Bélanger L, LeBlanc M, et al. "The Natural History of Insomnia: A Population-Based 3-Year Longitudinal Study." Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(5):447-453. Web. Accessed October 13, 2015.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.