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What causes insomnia?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Causes of chronic insomnia
Chronic insomnia can have a variety of emotional or physical causes. These include worry, stress, depression, headaches, weak bladder, and menopause. Using caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol can also contribute to chronic insomnia. Sometimes starting or stopping a medication can interfere with sleep. 

Causes of short-term insomnia
Short-term insomnia can have a variety of causes. Some people have trouble sleeping because they are worried or stressed. Sometimes sleep can be difficult due to a physical condition such as depression, a headache, or a weak bladder. Sometimes insomnia is caused by having too much caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or food before bedtime. In some cases, starting or stopping a medication can interfere with sleep.

Factors that increase your risk for insomnia
Different factors can increase your risk for chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia can be genetic, so if it runs in your family, your risk might be greater. Insomnia is also more common in women than in men. Taking some medications make sleep difficult. Sometimes an underlying health issue can make chronic sleeplessness more likely. Stress, depression, or an upsetting incident may also increase risk. Working nights or keeping irregular hours may also play a part. Age can also play a part. As people grow older, they more often experience symptoms of insomnia.

Dr. Masoud Sadighpour
Internist

Chronic insomnia could be due to different reasons.

If somebody is suffering from anxiety disorder and we do not treat the cause of insomnia in such a case, then insomnia might last for years.

In some cases in which patient is conditioned to his or her bed, the patient behavior can make the insomnia stay forever. In this case de-sensitization or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by an expert such a sleep Medicine doctor can cure the insomnia.

Chronic insomnia persists for at least a month and usually requires treatment. The condition may be due to any of the following:

  • Underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic illness
  • Long-term use of sleeping pills or alcohol
  • Aging
  • Shift work
  • Medical problems, such as chronic pain or overactive bladder
  • Primary sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.