Causes of Insomnia

Common Causes: Insomnia or similar sleep-related symptoms need not be caused by any major disease. There are many simple causes that should be checked first. Some of the causes of sleep difficulty include:

  • Over-tiredness, over-work, excessive stress, parenting stress, etc.
  • Poor bedtime routine, eating too close to bedtime, and so on.
  • Poor bedtime environment, noisy bedrooms, hot or cold rooms, drafts in rooms, and so on.
  • Sleep routine disruptions, such as jet lag from travel, or work hour changes in shift work.
  • Reduced exercise or activity (inactive lifestyle). If you don’t exercise enough, it can be harder to fall asleep.
  • Anxiety. Being worried about something will keep sleep at bay.
  • Emotional issues. Sadness, grief, loss, arguing at bedtime, relationship problems, divorce, and so on.
  • Depressive symptoms, negative thoughts, and so on.
  • Aging. The need for sleep declines with age, especially after 60. However, there are also sleep disorders that occur with age, which need to be diagnosed.
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Premenstrual syndrome. Some sleep difficulty in the week prior to menstruation.
  • Pregnancy. Some level of insomnia and sleep difficulty is common in pregnancy.
  • Shortness of breath when lying down. Patients with heart failure or similar complaints may have increased difficulty when trying to sleep horizontally reclined.

Other Physical Symptoms at Night: A number of other symptoms may occur at night, during sleep time, and interfere with a good night’s rest:

Infant and Child Sleep Conditions: The whole issue of sleep difficulty in an infant is well-known to many parents. Some common causes of a baby that won’t easily sleep include:

Substances and Medications. There are a number of common substances that interfere with sleep (e.g. caffeine, alcohol). Various illicit drugs or prescription drugs can cause sleep issues.

  • Caffeine or other stimulant drugs. Too many coffees or caffeinated sodas can easily explain sleep problems.
  • Nicotine.
  • Alcohol. The use of alcohol can cause effects on sleep.
  • Alcohol Withdrawal (Delirium Tremens)
  • Sleeping pills. Paradoxically, the use of sleeping pills can themselves cause sleep-related problems. And withdrawal from sleeping pills, when you stop taking them, can also cause issues.
  • Prescription drug side-effects. Various other medications may cause sleep-related side effects (or drug interactions).
  • Amphetamine abuse.
  • Cocaine abuse.
  • Herbal remedy side-effect

Sleep Disorders: There are some various types of Sleep Disorders that can cause difficulty with sleep (as their name suggests!).

  • Chronic Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy. Often causes a tendency to fall asleep during the day, rather than difficulty falling asleep.
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is a nasty disease that is often undiagnosed. A person with this disease has periods of time in sleep during which they do not breathe properly, and this leads to sleeping disruptions, along with some other very serious side effects (e.g. high blood pressure).
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus
  • Acroparesthesia
  • Sleepwalking

Read more about: Sleep Disorders.

Mental and Emotional Disorders. Simple emotional and depressive symptoms can interfere with sleep. So too can the more severe disease forms of these mental health issues. Some of the emotional and mental health diseases to consider include:

Serious Physical Disorders. There are some diseases that can interfere with sleep, such as to cause breathing difficulty while asleep.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.