Have you ever heard from others or encountered times when you were not able to fall asleep, or were woken up in the middle of the night due to no reason or disturbance?Insomnia is understood as an experience of poor sleep or insufficient marked by difficulty falling asleep or trouble maintaining sleep; waking earlier than usual hours; sensing non- restorative sleep (“I feel tired even after sleeping through the night”).While each one of us have had such challenges with our sleep particularly due to stressors like an important presentation, exam, financial stress, breakup or due to other factors such as jet lag, it is not considered insomnia if it resolves on its own within a few days. Insomnia is also not dependent on how long does it take you to fall asleep or how many hours of sleep are sufficient for you.Only if the symptoms are present at least three nights per week, for at least a month, insomnia is then diagnosed. Additionally, people who face struggle with sound sleep often experience distress, fatigue and report reduced concentration, irritability, not feeling fresh and impaired functioning due to poor sleep. It can be situational (temporary), chronic (lasting for a longer term, more than a month) or recurrent (occurring repetitively in episodes). While situational insomnia resolves as the trigger fades however chronic insomnia is what is more of a concern.In order to understand insomnia lets understand the stages of sleep mentioned below:Stage 1: transition period between being awake/ alert to relaxed stateStage 2: brain begins to relax the body and mind in order to initiate sleep stateStage 3: the muscles and body organs begin to relax and sleep state beginsStage 4: deep sleep state also known as Rapid Eye Movement state (REM sleep), normally this is the state where we are subjected to dreams and body’s movement mechanism is cut off so we do not act out on our dreamsNow let’s understand the different types of insomnia:Sleep Onset Insomnia: people with this type of insomnia often make statements like, “I keep turning and tossing in bed, thoughts keep running through my mind.” Hence, it describes the type in which people have difficulty falling asleep even after having spent 20-30 minutes in bed.Sleep Maintenance Insomnia: sometimes people state, “I just wake up in the middle of my sleep, even slightest of disturbance wakes me up.” In this type of insomnia people have difficulty maintaining sleep or are unable to go back to sleep once awake/ disturbed.Early Morning Awakening Insomnia: this involves a person waking up hours before the planes or usual time. This is most commonly associated with when someone is experiencing a depressive episode.Irrespective of the type of insomnia you may encounter, it makes you feel decreased quantity and quality of sleep with significant impact in your functioning producing symptoms of daytime drowsiness, laziness, loss of focus and concentration and mood swings. Additionally, while insomnia can be a secondary symptom of psychiatric illness such as depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal diseases, restless leg syndrome, it can also become a reason to trigger depression or anxiety. Hence, it is important that you take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Some of the easy to follow steps of sleep hygiene are listed below:Establish a regular sleeping and waking scheduleAvoiding day time napsStop exposure to screen one hour before sleep timeAvoid caffeine (tea/ coffee/ preservatives such as coca cola, pepsi, etc.) before sleep timeRestrict the use of bed only for sleep (avoid eating, watching TV/ movies/ Netflix in bed)Ensure that you have a separate working desk/ space to work/ studyGo to bed only when you feel sleepyTry not to engage in meta-worry (worrying about not able to sleep)In case you are not able to fall asleep in 15-20 mins then get up, walk for 10-15 mins, have some water and then go to bed and try to initiate a fresh sleep cycleDo not check the time on phone/ clock repetitivelyUse deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation exercises to bring the body and mind to a calm stateA healthy sleep routine is as important as healthy eating, therefore apply the necessary steps for sound sleep and do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional in case you experience persistent difficulties with your sleep.