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Inability to sleep adequately. The causes may include poor sleeping conditions, circulatory or brain disorders, breathing disorders (e.g., sleep apnea), mental distress (e.g., tension or depression), or physical discomfort. Mild insomnia may be treated by improving sleeping conditions or through traditional remedies such as warm baths, milk, or systematic relaxation. Apnea and its associated insomnia may be treated surgically or mechanically with breathing apparatus. Severe or chronic insomnia may necessitate the temporary use of barbiturates or tranquilizers, but such drugs are often addictive and may be decreasingly effective as the body builds up tolerance. Other methods of treatment include psychotherapy and hypnosis.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on insomnia, visit Britannica.com.