Insomnia and sleep deprivation: It’s common to find these two references to poor sleep used interchangeably, but the truth is, they are two separate concepts.
It may seem like mere semantics, but the “opportunity to sleep” figures prominently into either definition.
This refers to one’s inability to get adequate and/or quality sleep, despite plenty of opportunity to sleep. If you can imagine people lying in bed all night, staring at the alarm clock, not sleeping, then you have a pretty good idea what insomnia is.
Generally speaking, people don’t choose insomnia. They struggle to fall asleep or to stay asleep or they awaken far too early and lose sleep in that way.
This can refer to two different concepts:
Generally speaking, people choose (consciously or subconsciously) to deprive themselves of sleep. To be fair, sometimes it’s necessary to lose sleep at night: a loved one may be in the hospital, or traveling may demand it. However, many (if not most) people who are sleep deprived have fallen into bad sleeping patterns that practically guarantee they will be tired all the time.
If you have insomnia, you are experiencing a sleep disorder (or the symptom of a sleep disorder or other medical condition). In this case, there are chances for you to seek therapy, whether it is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i), sleep medications, a combination of both, or something else entirely.
If you are sleep deprived, you have the power to change your habits and sleep patterns to improve the amount and quality of the sleep you get every night. For instance, you can:
Whatever the cause of your daytime fatigue and nighttime sleep problems, it’s important to take action to correct them. They don’t typically go away on their own. In fact, insomnia and sleep deprivation will both worsen over time if left to their own devices. This can lead to chronic illness, higher risks for accidents and mistakes, mental health problems, and much more.