While it is unknown precisely when acute insomnia becomes chronic, a good rule of thumb would be two to four weeks. The bottom line is: getting treatment earlier rather than later can only be a good thing. There will be less personal suffering. It may also be true that the disorder is easier to treat when it is dealt with early and that early treatment may reduce your risk for the development of other disorders.
--Michael Perlis, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, and Director of the UR Sleep Research Laboratory & Behavioral Sleep Medicine Service at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of sleepmatters.