Updated at: 13-10-2022 - By: Jane

Common sleep disorders include insomnia, which can make it difficult to get asleep, difficult to stay asleep, or lead you to wake up too early and be unable to fall back to sleep. When you finally do wake up, you may still feel exhausted. Poor sleep can have negative effects on more than just your mood and energy levels; it can also diminish your health, productivity at work, and overall quality of life.

Everyone has a different ideal amount of sleep, but most adults require between seven and eight hours every night.

Most individuals will suffer from acute, or temporary, sleeplessness at some point in their lives. Anxiety and trauma are common causes. Others, however, suffer from persistent insomnia that lasts for a month or longer. Insomnia could be the root cause, or it could be a side effect of a treatment or illness.

Nights of insomnia are not something you must accept. Modifying some of your regular practices can often assist.


The following are some of the symptoms that may accompany insomnia:

  • Lack of ability to get to sleep
  • Nighttime awakenings
  • A pre-dawn awakening
  • having trouble waking up feeling refreshed
  • Slumpiness or exhaustion during the day
  • Emotional instability, such as irritability, despair, or anxiety
  • Problems concentrating, recalling details, and maintaining focus
  • A rise in the frequency of mistakes or mishaps
  • Constant anxiety about falling asleep

When to see a doctor

If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, or if insomnia is interfering with your daily life, it’s best to visit a doctor. When a doctor suspects a patient has a sleep disorder, they may send them to a sleep center for further evaluation.

Is All Insomnia the Same?

Insomnia can manifest itself in a variety of ways from person to person. Insomnia can be either temporary or chronic; the latter typically lasts for three months or longer. Some people have trouble with sleep maintenance (initiating and maintaining sleep), while others have trouble falling asleep (sleep maintenance).

The impact of insomnia on a given individual varies widely depending on factors such as the condition’s etiology, severity, and the role played by other medical issues.

What Are Common Causes of Insomnia?

Numerous variables, often interrelated, can contribute to sleeplessness. Insomnia has a complex chain of causes and effects because of the many different health problems that can be exacerbated or brought on by a lack of quality sleep.

Hyperarousal is thought to be the root cause of insomnia since it prevents people from going asleep and staying asleep. Hyperarousal can manifest itself in the mind and body and is caused by a wide variety of environmental and medical factors.

Infographic explaining possible causes of insomnia

Insomnia and Stress

Because stress causes such a strong reaction in the body, it might make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Various sources, including employment, education, and interpersonal connections, might trigger this stress reaction. Chronic stress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, can develop after exposure to stressful events (PTSD).

Both mental stress and the physical stress reaction can increase arousal levels. The inability to sleep could become a stressor in and of itself, compounding the difficulty of overcoming both stress and insomnia.

Some people appear to be genetically predisposed to sleep issues brought on by stress, according to the research. They have what is called high “sleep reactivity,” which is linked to various problems with their rest and wellbeing.

Insomnia and Irregular Sleep Schedules

The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock, and it is best when it follows the 24-hour day-night cycle. However, many people’s sleep schedules throw off their circadian rhythm.

Jet lag and shift work are two common examples of this. If you’ve ever tried to sleep after experiencing jet lag, you know how disruptive it can be. If you work shifts, you’ll be up late and asleep early. Both can cause problems with maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.

Some persons experience persistent challenges with sleep time and overall sleep quality due to a shift in circadian rhythms for which there is no apparent cause.

Insomnia and Lifestyle

A person’s risk of insomnia increases with the prevalence of unhealthy behaviors and routines connected to lifestyle and food and drink.

Sleep disturbances can be caused by a number of different choices in one’s daily routine:

  • Maintaining mental activity well into the evening, whether through work, gaming, or other electronic means.
  • Napping in the late afternoon, especially on a daily basis, might disrupt your circadian rhythms and make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • Avoid staying up late as a means of catching up on lost sleep, as this might throw off your body’s internal clock and make it harder to establish a regular sleep routine.
  • You may associate being awake with being in bed if you use it for purposes other than sleeping.

Insomnia sufferers may find that their dietary choices contribute to their condition, despite this fact typically being disregarded.

When consumed in the late afternoon or early evening, caffeine’s stimulating effects can linger in the body for several hours, making it more difficult to fall asleep and perhaps leading to insomnia. To add to the list of stimulants that disrupt sleep, there’s nicotine.

Because it disrupts your natural sleep rhythm and causes restless, unrestorative sleep, alcohol, a sedative that can make you feel drowsy, actually worsens your sleep.

Eating late at night, especially if you ate a substantial meal or something spicy, can be taxing on your digestive system and may cause sleep problems.

Insomnia and Mental Health Disorders

Extreme insomnia is a common symptom of mental health issues such anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. According to research, almost 40% of those who suffer from insomnia also deal with some sort of psychological issue.

Sleep disruption and chronic negative thinking are both possible outcomes of the aforementioned situations. Moreover, research shows that insomnia can amplify the symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, including raising the risk of suicide in depressed individuals.

Pie chart explaining the amount of the population with comorbid insomnia and mental health disorders

Insomnia, Physical Illness, and Pain

The inability to lie down comfortably in bed due to pain can be a major sleep disruptor. If you’re having trouble sleeping and can’t get your mind off the pain, it may only become worse. Beds with appropriate pressure relief can ease difficult pain points, therefore it’s crucial to choose the finest mattress for your needs if you do have pain when lying in bed.

Type II diabetes-related health problems can contribute to the development of insomnia. Rapid variations in blood sugar, increased frequency of urination and hydration needs, and peripheral neuropathy-related pain all have the potential to disrupt a good night’s rest. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and depression are two major health issues that are linked to diabetes that disrupt sleep.

Short-term or long-term insomnia can be the result of other medical illnesses as well, such as those that disrupt breathing or the nervous system.

Insomnia and Medications

There are numerous different drugs that might cause sleep issues or insomnia. Medicines that treat high blood pressure, asthma, and depression are all examples. Taking other medications might produce daytime sleepiness, which can disrupt a person’s normal sleeping pattern.

Sleep disruption is not limited to people who take medication. Sleep disturbances may occur as a result of withdrawal or other physical reactions that occur when someone stops using a drug.

Insomnia and Neurological Problems

Insomnia risk is higher in people who have neurological conditions such neurodegenerative diseases or neurodevelopmental abnormalities.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are two forms of neurodegenerative disease that can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm and their ability to respond to daily cues that regulate sleep and wakefulness. Disorientation in the middle of the night might make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Insomnia is a common symptom of neurodevelopmental disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because hyperarousal, a state of heightened alertness, can make it difficult for patients to fall asleep. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have trouble falling or staying asleep, and these difficulties may continue throughout adulthood.

Insomnia and Specific Sleep Disorders

Insomnia may be brought on by a variety of sleep disorders. It is estimated that up to 20% of the population suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing and brief awakenings throughout the night.

Insomnia is exacerbated by Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), which causes an overwhelming need to move the legs repeatedly throughout the night. Parasomnias, or abnormal sleep behaviors, are disruptive to sleep quality. Sleep paralysis, sleepwalking, and nightmares are all well-known examples of parasomnias.

What Are Causes of Insomnia in the Elderly?

Around 30–48 percent of seniors battle with insomnia, and they have a more difficult time than younger folks with keeping their sleep schedules consistent.

Insomnia in the elderly can be brought on by the same stress, physical diseases, mental health problems, and bad habits that bring it on in younger individuals. However, the effects of these factors are often amplified in the elderly due to the prevalence of chronic health conditions, social isolation, and the use of multiple prescription drugs that may affect sleep.

Evidence suggests that the sleep efficiency of persons over the age of 60 decreases. They are more easily awakened because they spend less time in the deeper stages of sleep and REM sleep. Particularly for the elderly in managed care settings, a reduction in sun exposure and diminished environmental cues for sleep and wakefulness might alter circadian rhythm.

What Are the Causes of Insomnia in Teens?

Up to 23.8% of young adults have insomnia regularly. Teens, due to hormonal shifts, tend to be “night owls,” preferring to sleep in late in the day, but are often unable to do so due to early school start hours.

The pressures of school, work, and social life may put a lot of strain on anyone, but teenagers may be especially prone to the effects of overscheduling. The use of electronic devices in the bedroom is also common among adolescents. Adolescent insomnia is exacerbated by all of these reasons.

What Are the Causes of Insomnia During Pregnancy?

Insomnia during pregnancy can be caused by a number of different things:

  • Discomfort Occupying the same position in bed may become increasingly difficult as body weight and composition change.
  • Trouble Breathing: The expanding uterus can put stress on the lungs, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Short interruptions in breathing during sleep (central sleep apnea) and snoring are both exacerbated by hormonal shifts.
  • Because of the body’s natural tendency to digest food more slowly at night, many people experience uncomfortable symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux.
  • An increase in the need to get up during the night to urinate is known as nocturia.
  • Even if they’ve never experienced any symptoms of RLS before, pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing the condition during their pregnancies for reasons that aren’t yet understood.

More than half of pregnant women report having trouble sleeping, which is consistent with insomnia, according to studies. While most pregnant women get more total hours of sleep in the first trimester, the quality of that sleep typically declines. Total sleep time declines after the first trimester, with the most severe sleeplessness happening in the third trimester.

Risk factors

It’s rather common to have trouble sleeping once in a while. However, the likelihood of suffering from insomnia increases if you:

  • To put it simply, you’re a lady. Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and menopause may play an impact. Disrupted sleep is a common symptom of menopause, as night sweats and hot flashes are common. Pregnancy also commonly causes insomnia.
  • To put it another way, you’re not a youngster anymore. Insomnia is more common as people become older due to changes in sleep habits and health.
  • You are suffering from a mental or physical illness. Sleep disturbances can be caused by a wide variety of mental and physical health conditions.
  • Lots of pressure is being put on you right now. Sleeplessness is a transitory condition that can be brought on by stress and traumatic situations. And chronic sleeplessness can be brought on by substantial or prolonged stress.
  • You never keep to a set routine. Your natural sleep-wake rhythm may be thrown off by factors such as working rotating shifts or frequent travel.


Just like maintaining a nutritious diet and engaging in regular exercise, getting enough shut-eye is crucial to your overall well-being. Insomnia has psychological and physiological effects regardless of the cause. As compared to those who are getting adequate sleep, those who suffer from insomnia report having a lower quality of life overall.

Insomnia Causes

Possible side effects of sleeplessness include:

  • decreased productivity in the workplace or classroom.
  • Reduced reflexes and an increased danger of collisions when driving.
  • Depression, anxiety, and substance misuse are just a few examples of conditions that can affect mental health.
  • Enhanced likelihood of developing and experiencing the symptoms of chronic disorders including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.


An effective method of combating insomnia and fostering restful slumber is the development of healthy sleeping routines:

  • Follow a regular schedule for when you go to bed and when you get up, even on the weekends.
  • Keep moving; frequent exercise is a surefire way to improve your sleep quality.
  • If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, it could be time to reevaluate your medicine.
  • Naps should be avoided or at least kept to a minimum.
  • Stay away from nicotine and other addictive substances like caffeine and alcohol.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything heavy right before bed.
  • Only engage in sexual activity or sleep in your bedroom for maximum rest.
  • Make sure you have a routine that helps you wind down before bed, whether it’s a warm bath, reading, or listening to music.

What should I ask my healthcare provider about insomnia?

Consider asking your doctor if you suffer from insomnia:

  • Do any of the drugs I’m taking keep me awake?
  • How can I improve my sleeping habits?
  • Explain how CBT helps people get better rest at night.
  • Where may I look to locate a qualified psychotherapist?
  • Is it possible that I also suffer from other sleep problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea?

Do not put off seeing a doctor for treatment if you have trouble sleeping. You could get advice on how to deal with the challenges that are keeping you from getting enough shut-eye. Changing one’s food, lifestyle, and nightly rituals might help many people who suffer from insomnia get a better night’s sleep. They may also suggest CBT or medication.

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