Causes of Sleeping Difficulty
Lifestyle Causes: Various simple causes of insomnia are possible:
- Excess caffeine in-take (e.g. coffee, sodas, caffeine stimulants).
- Over-eating. Eating too much around bedtime.
- Poor sleep environment (e.g. noisy bedroom, uncomfortable bed, too cold, too hot, etc.)
- Jet lag
- Shift work
- Inactivity. Lack of physical activity or exercise can make sleeping more difficult at night.
- Parental sleep deprivation (poor sleeping routine from attending to a baby or infant).
- Emotions such as anxiety, fear, excitement, etc.
- Premenstrual syndrome. Some women have (usually mild) insomnia in the week leading up to menstruation.
- Mental preoccupation. Thinking about work or things you have to do.
- Adolescence. May cause difficulty sleeping, and also oversleeping (in the morning).
- Nightmares and night terrors.
- Age-related reduced need for sleep
- Overuse of sleeping pills (rebound insomnia)
Babies and Infants: The difficulty with sleep patterns of babies and infants are well-known to parents. This is not really called insomnia. Sleeping problems in infants can be simple causes like overtiredness, cold, diapers, need for comfort, and so on, but there can also be other medical causes such as infant colic, fever, constipation, and so on. Read more about: Infant Sleeping Problems
Night-time Symptoms: Are any symptoms worse at bedtime, or occurring during sleep in the middle of the night? These can also cause sleeping problems.
- Muscle cramps. Having muscle cramps at night may impede sleep. But this is not normal and the cause of these muscle cramps needs to be investigated for its cause. For example, it could be due to undiagnosed diabetes and Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be quickly life-threatening if untreated.
- Night twitches and night muscle spasms
- Shortness of breath (orthopnea). Particularly shortness of breath exacerbated by lying down.
- Headache (night headaches).
- Night urination. Is there a need to urinate in the middle of the night? For example, older men may have an enlarged prostate.
Night-Time Pain: Is there any pain that keeps you awake?
- Pain. Is there any type of pain? This interferes with sleep, but the cause of the pain must be investigated.
- Chronic back pain
- Heartburn (reflux). Chronic heartburn is called GERD.
- Popliteal aches (behind-the-knee aches). Common with growth spurts such as in adolescence.
- Chronic pain disorders
- Paresthesias (neuropathic pain)
Sleep Disorders: Other underlying sleep disturbing disorders may include:
- Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
- Age-related sleep disorder. Although increasing age may reduce the need for total amount of sleep, it can also cause some disordered sleeping patterns, which are not normal.
- Sleep disorders (all types)
Respiratory and Circulatory Disorders: A patient may have shortness of breath when lying down (orthopnea), making it difficult to sleep. The patient may need to sleep propped up with pillows or in a chair to breathe properly. This is a sign of serious circulatory difficulty. See causes of:
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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.