Common Causes of Insomnia and Ways to Cope With it

Parul Dube

May 21, 2022

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that yearly entails millions of people worldwide. Someone with insomnia discovers it is hard to fall asleep. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need at least seven to nine hours of sleep every twenty hours, depending on their age.

Research indicates that around 25% of people in the United States encounter insomnia each year, but about 75% do not cultivate a long-term problem. Short-term insomnia can lead to daytime exhaustion, complications in concentration, and other difficulties. In the long term, it may heighten the risk of several diseases.

Who is an Insomniac?

An individual with insomnia has complications falling asleep or staying asleep. They may consistently wake up early. It can lead to situations such as: 

  • Daytime lethargy and sleepiness
  • A general feeling of being physically and mentally unwell
  • Mood changes, anxiety, and irritability

A study indicates that insomnia may play a role in the growth of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. It can also weaken school and work accomplishments and limit a person’s proficiency in doing daily activities.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia symptoms may include:

  • Problem falling asleep at night
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness or tiredness
  • Irritability, anxiety, or depression
  • Problem paying attention, concentrating on tasks or remembering
  • Heightened errors or accidents
  • Ongoing concerns about sleep

Research indicates tension headaches and difficulty working, studying, or socialising. 

Types of Insomnia 

Research indicates that one can classify insomnia by duration:

  • Acute, transient insomnia is a short-term situation
  • Chronic insomnia can last for months or even years

Doctors also categorise it by cause: 

  • Primary insomnia is a problem by itself.
  • Secondary insomnia is an outcome of another health issue.

In addition, they categorise it by severity:

  • Mild insomnia implicates a lack of sleep that leads to tiredness.
  • Moderate insomnia influences daily functioning.
  • Severe insomnia has a substantial impact on everyday life.

Doctors also contemplate other factors when specifying insomnia, including whether the person always wakes up too early or has trouble: staying asleep, falling asleep, and receiving vital sleep.

Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia can be a fundamental problem, or it may correlate with other situations. Chronic insomnia is generally an outcome of stress, life events or addictions that disrupt sleep. Treating the underlying factor can settle insomnia, but occasionally it can last for years.

Common reasons for chronic insomnia include:


Problems with school, work, health, finances or family can keep your psyche active at night, making it hard to sleep. Stressful life traumas and events — such as the death or illness of a loved one, divorce, or a job loss — also may lead to insomnia.

Travel or Work Schedule

Your circadian tones act as an inner clock, counselling such things as your metabolism, sleep-wake cycle, and body elements. Disrupting your body’s circadian velocities can lead to insomnia. Results include jet lag from touring across numerous time zones, helping a late or early change, or often changing shifts.

Poor Sleep Habits

Poor sleep habits encompass irregular bedtime naps, schedule, facilitating actions before bed, an uneasy sleep environment, using your bed for the job, eating or watching television. Before bed, computers, television, smartphones, video games, or other screens can deter your sleep cycle.

Overeating Late in the Evening

Chronic insomnia arises from other medical situations or specific drugs. Dealing with the medical problem may help enhance sleep, but insomnia may remain after the medical condition improves. Additional common reasons for insomnia include:

Mental Health Disorders

Anxiety diseases, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, may disrupt your sleep. Waking up too early can be an indication of depression. Insomnia often arises with other mental health disorders as well.


Many medication drugs can deter sleep, such as specific antidepressants and blood pressure or asthma medications. In addition, many over-the-counter treatments, such as some pain drugs, cold medicines, allergies, and weight-loss supplements, contain caffeine and other additives that disrupt sleep.

Medical Conditions

Conditions associated with insomnia can have a far-reaching impact. For example, cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease are some. In addition, there are correlations between insomnia and Alzheimer’s, gastroesophageal reflux disease, overactive thyroid, and Parkinson’s disease.

As a result of sleep apnea, you sometimes stop breathing throughout the night, disturbing your sleep. In addition, restless legs syndrome motivates terrible sensations in your legs and an almost overpowering desire to move them, which may deter you from falling asleep.

Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine

Coffee, cola, tea, and other caffeinated drinks are triggers. Drinking them in the evening or afternoon can keep you from feeling asleep at night. Nicotine in tobacco commodities is another stimulant that can deter sleep. Alcohol may enable you to fall asleep, but it prevents deeper sleep phases and often results in awakening at the beginning of the night.

Insomnia and Ageing

Insomnia becomes more widespread with age:

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Sleep frequently evolves less peacefully as you age, so noise or other differences in your atmosphere are more inclined to wake you. Also, with age, your inner clock often progresses, so you get exhausted earlier in the evening and wake up ahead in the morning. But older people commonly still need a similar amount of sleep as inexperienced people do.

Changes in Activity

You may be less socially or physically active. For example, an absence of training can deter a good night’s sleep. Also, the less active you are, the more inclined you may be to take a daily nap, preventing sleep at night.

Changes in Health

Chronic pain from situations such as arthritis or back difficulties and anxiety or depression can deter sleep. Issues that boost the need to urinate during the night, such as bladder or prostate difficulties, can disrupt sleep. Restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea becomes more widespread with age.

Excess Medications

Older people commonly use more prescription drugs than newer people, which improves the chance of insomnia correlated with medications.

Risk Factors

Almost everyone has a periodic sleepless night. But your danger of insomnia is enormous if:

Are a woman: Hormonal changes during the periods and in menopause may play a part. During menopause, hot flashes and night sweat often disrupt sleep. Insomnia is also widespread with pregnancy.

Are over sixty: Because of modifications in sleep patterns and health.

Have a mental health disease or physical health condition: Many problems that affect your physical or mental health can disrupt sleep.

Under a lot of pressure: Stressful events and times can result in temporary insomnia. And significant or long-lasting stress can direct to chronic insomnia.

Have a regular schedule: For example, altering shifts at work or travelling can disrupt your sleep-wake process.

Insomnia and Pregnancy

Insomnia is widespread during pregnancy, especially in the 1st and 3rd trimesters. You might have different sleeping for a range of causes, including: 

  • Bodily changes, like nausea, fluctuating hormones, and a heightened need to urinate.
  • Boosted anxiety and stress about the increasing responsibilities you will encounter as a modern parent.
  • Pain, such as back discomfort and cramps.

The good news is that pregnancy-related insomnia generally passes and does not influence your baby’s growth. All the same, getting the correct quantity of sleep is significant for your overall well-being.

Insomnia in Children

Children can form insomnia, too and frequently for similar reasons as adults. These reasons might encompass stress, heavy caffeine intake, medications, and mental or physical health conditions. For example, if your child has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or often wakes up too early, they may have insomnia.

Symptoms of insomnia in children often comprise:

  • Daytime restlessness or sleepiness
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Repeated disciplinary problems
  • Problems with focus and memory

Insomnia in Older Adulthood

According to 2019 research, up to 75% of older adults encounter some warnings of insomnia. A few different components contribute to insomnia in older adulthood, and these can have something of a domino effect: 

  • Age-related modifications in the circadian tones accountable for your sleep-wake progression can make it tougher to fall asleep or stay asleep.
  • If you are retired, you may no longer have a compatible daytime plan or get normal social interchange, contributing to insomnia.
  • Social isolation can provide loneliness and heighten your likelihoods of experiencing a recession, which can also put up your risk of sleep problems.
  • Health concerns about ageing, including chronic pain situations, can also influence your sleep.

Insomnia and Anxiety

Ever spent a night awake concerning something you could not control? Insomnia generally occurs with anxiety, and the connection can go both ways.

You might discover it hard to fall asleep when you can not calm chronic feelings of fear and worry. But persistent insomnia can make you anxious about all the sleep you are not getting, not to make it tougher to manage complex and undesirable emotions during the day.

Whether you are handling an anxiety disorder or short-term anxiety associated with a particular stressor, like a demanding work situation or dispute in your relationship, aid from a mental health expert can help you start up to address all of your indications.

Insomnia and Depression

Evidence indicates a close link between insomnia and depression:

A 2016 meta-analysis of 34 studies inferred that poor sleep, particularly during times of stress, seemed to considerably boost the risk of depression. However, in a 2018 study of about 1,126 adults who did not diagnose with either depression or insomnia when the study started, the risk of depression improved as chronic insomnia indications worsened over time.

Diagnosing Insomnia

There is no particular test to analyse insomnia. Instead, your healthcare provider will conduct a physical exam and inquire questions to understand your sleep difficulties and symptoms. The critical data for the diagnosis of insomnia is studying your sleep history with your physician. Your provider will also survey your medical history and the therapies you are taking to discern if they may be influencing your capacity to sleep. You may also:

Blood Test

Your physician may want you to do a blood test to rule out specific medical situations such as low iron levels or thyroid problems that can negatively affect sleep.

Keep a Sleep Diary

You may have to write down your sleep habits for 1-3 weeks. This data can help your provider specify patterns or manners that deter with rest.

Sleep Study

Sleep studies (polysomnograms) are not essential for analysing insomnia. However, if your doctor has questions that your insomnia may result from sleep apnea or another sleep disease, you may be concerned.

Health Risk of Prolonged Insomnia 

Over time, scarcity of sleep or inadequate quality sleep can negatively influence your mental and physical health. Insomnia can bestow to diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, heart disease, weight gain, obesity, and mood disorder.

Neurological Problems

Problems influencing the brain, encompassing neurodegenerative12 and neurodevelopmental disorders, have been correlated with a high risk of insomnia.

Neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s dementia, can divert a person’s circadian rhythm and perception of daily signals that propel the sleep-wake cycle. As a result, nighttime turmoil can further deteriorate sleep quality.

Neurological diseases such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can result in an adrenaline rush, making it difficult for people to get proper sleep. In addition, sleeping problems are widespread for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and may prevail into adulthood.

Specific Sleep Disorders

Particular sleep disorders can be a result of insomnia. For example, obstructive sleep apnea, which results in several breathing lapses and temporary sleep interruptions, affects up to 20% of people and can be an elementary factor causing daytime sleepiness or insomnia.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) diverts from sleep by causing a compelling urge to move the legs. In addition, unusual behaviours during sleep, known as parasomnias, can deter rest. Some well-known instances of parasomnias comprise nightmares, sleepwalking, and sleep paralysis.

Insomnia: Treatment

Short-term insomnia frequently gets better on its own. However, for chronic insomnia, your healthcare provider may suggest :

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia

CBT-I is a short, structured intervention for insomnia that enables you to specify and replace feelings and attitudes that affect or worsen sleep difficulties with patterns that facilitate sound sleep. Unlike sleeping medications, CBT-I allows you to withstand the elementary causes of your sleep problems.


Lifestyle and behaviour changes can best assist you in enhancing your sleep over the extended term. In some cases, though, taking sleeping medications for a brief time can help you sleep. However, doctors suggest taking sleep treatments only now and then or only for a short time. They are not the initial choice for dealing with chronic insomnia.

Insomnia: Prevention Tips

Good sleep patterns can help deter insomnia and facilitate sound sleep:

  • Maintain your bedtime and wake time constant from day to day, including weekends.
  • Being active daily helps in getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Check your prescriptions to see if they may provide insomnia.
  • Prevent or limit naps.
  • Prevent or limit caffeine and alcohol, and do not use nicotine.
  • Avert large meals and beverages before slumber.
  • Prepare your bedroom comfortably for sleep and only utilise it for sleep.
  • Build a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath infused with a few drops of lavender oil, listen to music or read books.

The Conclusion

If you are enduring insomnia, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider for help. They may deliver tips for management issues that deter with your sleep. For example, many people with insomnia sleep better after altering their diet, lifestyle and nighttime habits. Or they may also suggest cognitive behavioural therapy or medication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1. What is the main cause of insomnia?

A. Common reasons for chronic insomnia include stress, health, troubles with work, school, finances, or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. In addition, stressful life circumstances or trauma such as illness or death of a loved one, divorce, or a job loss may also steer to insomnia. 

Q.2. How can I stop my insomnia?

A. If you have persistent insomnia, there are points you can take to strive and reduce your symptoms. For most people, the valuable ways to beat insomnia are to reduce caffeine infusion, stop drinking alcohol, decrease stress levels, get new bedding and restrict the use of electronics before bed. 

Q.3. What are the 3 types of insomnia?

A. The three types of insomnia comprise transient insomnia that is less than one week, acute insomnia that is short term, and chronic insomnia that is long term. Insomnia is the most widespread type of sleep disorder, and it implicates problems falling asleep or staying asleep or receiving quality sleep, despite sufficient opportunity to do so. 

Q.4. What foods can cause insomnia?

A. Experts believe that the intake of added sugar and net carbs can be related to a higher likelihood of insomnia. In addition, other research has shown that diets high in sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and refined carbs were related to poor sleep quality. 

Q.5. Why can’t I sleep at night?

A. Insomnia, the incapacity to sleep or sleep adequately at night, can be inflicted by jet lag, stress, a health condition, the treatments you take, or even the quantity of coffee you drink. Insomnia can also be affected by other sleep diseases or mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. 

Q.6. What home remedies help you sleep?

A. The home remedies that help you sleep are melatonin, lavender oil, valerian root, chamomile, mindful meditation, magnesium, progressive muscle relaxation, and regular exercise. These things and methods can enable a person to sleep a good night. 

Q.7. What foods help you sleep?

A. The foods that help you sleep are almond, turkey, chamomile tea, kiwi, tart cherry juice, fatty fish, walnuts, and passionflower tea. These foods are nutritious and delicious and have many health benefits as well. 

Q.8. How can I force myself to sleep?

A. By lowering the temperature, getting on a schedule, experiencing both daylight and darkness, and practising yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, you can get a good sleep. Also, avoid looking at your clock, prevent taking naps during the day, and watch when and what you eat. 

Q.9. What causes female insomnia?

A. The female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen are implicated in a mixture of processes that govern sleep. Varying levels during period, pregnancy, and perimenopause can result in insomnia. Mood disorders and stress, such as depression and anxiety, can also heighten the risk of insomnia in females. 

Q.10. Can insomnia go away?

A. Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which you have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Short term sleeplessness tends to last for an occasional day or week caused by stress. Persistent insomnia is when the sleep problems occur at least three times a week for three months or longer. 

Q.11. Why am I not sleeping or eating?

A. Sleeping problems and reduced appetite often indicate anxiety or depression. If severe, they may indicate a more serious mental problem like manic depression. Prednisone (steroids) can result in these signs and symptoms.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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One response to “Common Causes of Insomnia and Ways to Cope With it”

  1. In present generation it is the common problem of Insomnia. Children not sleeping in the nights. Both my kids facing this. Daughter sleep @ 3 AM and son @ 6 AM. They won’t listen to us.

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