Healthy Living

What Can Cause Insomnia?

What Can Cause Insomnia?

Key Takeaways

  • There are multiple types of insomnia: acute and chronic.
  • An individual's gender, mental disorder, or stress level can influence this condition.
  • Insomnia can be easily treated if an individual is willing to seek help.

The term insomnia entails difficulty sleeping, and difficulty staying asleep. It affects millions of people worldwide, and ultimately impairs the individual from performing daily activities, due to drowsiness and delirium.

Insomnia can be categorized into two types:

  • Primary insomnia – This type of insomnia is not affiliated with other health issues.
  • Secondary insomnia – This type of insomnia can develop due the influence medications, and other health conditions, like depression, arthritis, and cancer.

Different types of insomnia can persist for different periods of time:

  • Acute insomnia – A short term condition, lasts from one night and up to a few weeks. 
  • Chronic insomnia – The symptoms for chronic insomnia may last from two to three weeks, or even months.

Acute insomnia can be caused by numerous influences including:

  • Sudden and extreme stress, such as a career change or the death of loved one
  • Physical discomfort due to an illness or disorder
  • Uncomfortable and extreme temperatures
  • Certain medications
  • Jet lag

Chronic insomnia, however, is caused by depression, stress, pain, or discomfort during sleep.

Insomnia is found to be common during aging. Change in sleeping patterns, daily activities, and health are common with aging and although older people require the same amount of sleep compared to their younger generations, sleeping becomes difficult with age. Adults often feel tired and exhausted earlier in the evening, and wake up earlier in the morning. With aging, people are prone to do less activity, which can directly affect an individual's sleeping pattern. Chronic pain associated with conditions, like arthritis and back pain, affects the quality and quantity of sleep. Other sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, are also common during aging.

The following are factors that depict the causes for insomnia:

  • Gender – Insomnia is found to be more common among women, when compared to men. One cause that creates the commonality among women is the fact that women who undergo menopause have difficulty sleeping due to night sweats and hot flashes during the night. 
  • Mental disorders – Mental conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all known to affect an individual's sleep.
  • Stress – If an individual is dwelling on the past, or living in a highly stressful environment, they will have difficulty sleeping.

To properly diagnose a patient with insomnia, one must complete a full physical examination, and undergo a sleep study to monitor sleeping patterns. Moreover, to keep track of your sleeping pattern on your own, keep a sleep journal by your bedside to record each time you are disrupted from your sleep.

Acute insomnia often does not require any specific treatments. For chronic insomnia, a doctor may recommend treatment the underlying condition that caused your restless nights. Behavioral therapy is also suggested for the treatment of this sleep disorder.