Insomnia often includes two elements:  poor sleep quality and not sleeping when you want to be sleeping.  Many terms are used to describe “insomnia,” such as “poor sleep,” “unwanted sleeplessness,” “troubled sleep,” or “problematic sleep.”  In general these terms are interchangeable particularly so because individuals with sleep problems relate to one if not all of them. 

A common complaint among insomnia patients, therefore, is not getting enough sleep, which technically appears to be a sleep quantity problem instead of a sleep quality problem.

This distinction is where our program differs from many others.  In our experience and research, we find that sleep quality needs the most iniitial and long term attention when addressing the insomnia patient’s concerns.  These reason for our quality emphasis is simple; in greater than 90% of insomnia cases, a sleep quality problem drives most or all of the patient’s sleep complaints.

It may seem like a funny way to look at sleep problems, especially for those who have found themselves obsessed with getting the “right” number of hours of sleep.  But, in real-world sleep medicine, you will discover that trying to fix your sleep problems by sleeping more hours is a bit like asking a heart failure patient to run more miles to fix their cardiac condition. 

Your sleep quality is the pivotal issue, because if you quality is fair or poor, it means that your sleep is disrupted or fragmented much of the night.  And, when you suffer from sleep fragmentation, remarkably, it will cause then to sleep too much or too little.  In other words, if you’re prone to insomnia for example because you suffer from some anxiety, then a sleep quality problem often results in your sleeping for less hours than you desire.  If you don’t suffer from any anxiety or insomnia, then a sleep quality problem often results in your sleeping more hours than you would like to be sleeping or routinely wanting or needing to nap during the day.

In sum, even though the term insomnia often implies a problem with the number of hours of sleep you’re not getting, the term would be more correctly used by connecting insomnia to a sleep quality problem.