What Causes Insomnia?

by Valerie Miller
by Valerie Miller

Table of Contents

Insomnia is derived from the Latin word insomnis (sleepless).

This aggravating sleep disorder affects a surprising number of people and can really spill over into your life causing multiple problems.

Insomnia causes difficulty in sleeping or staying asleep. It can either be the problem itself or there might be underlying factors causing these sleep problems.

We’ll look today at what causes insomnia as well as the different types of this disorder. We’ll also explore the symptoms of insomnia so you can recognize the signs.

And if you’re asking yourself, “Do I have insomnia?” then we’ll outline a simple insomnia test which is nothing more than a self-assessment to consider before consulting your doctor.

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So, first thing’s first…

We’ll have a look at many different factors that can cause insomnia so you can remedy anything that is preventing you from enjoying a restful sleep.

Causes of Insomnia

The causes of insomnia depend on what kind of insomnia it is.

There are 2 types:

  • Chronic Insomnia
  • Acute Insomnia

Chronic Insomnia

This type lasts for a longer period.

It can start from 3 nights every week over the course of a month or more.

Chronic insomnia normally secedes while the causes are being treated but comes back after the treatment is over.


  • Addiction to caffeinated drinks and food
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Body discomfort
  • Pain
  • Staying up too late
  • Stress
  • Taking long afternoon naps
  • Uncomfortable beds

Acute Insomnia

Otherwise known as mild insomnia, this is a short-term disorder that can happen for one night or perhaps might continue for a few days.


  • Changes in sleep schedules (day shift to night shift, jetlag…)
  • Emotional stress like bankruptcy, death, divorce or job loss
  • Environmental issues such as extreme weather conditions, noises or foul smells
  • Illnesses such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), heart disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, colds and cough or asthma
  • Medications for certain illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, colds and coughs, anti-depressants, any acidic pain medication
  • Overeating at night
  • Pain
  • Psychological problems (anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders)
  • Restless leg syndrome where sudden jerks disrupt sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stimulants (caffeinated drinks and food taken in late afternoon or night time)

Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

How would you know if these simple sleep disruptions are actually signs that you are already suffering from insomnia?

Below are the some classic insomnia symptoms…

  • Inability to fall asleep even when you are really tired
  • Difficulty returning to sleep after being roused in the middle of sleep
  • Waking very early despite troubles sleeping
  • Feeling of tiredness and weakness upon waking up
  • Sleepy feelings throughout the day
  • Difficulty focusing on work or other things

For any members of your household with asthma, hay fever or other allergies, clean air ducts are essential to prevent irritation.

Children and the elderly also tend to be more sensitive to contaminants so don’t expose them unnecessarily.

Insomnia Effects

Sleep is one of the most important parts of staying healthy.

Being constantly deprived of sleep can dramatically affect your daily life and ability to function.

The following are just some of the bad effects insomnia can be responsible for…

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Feeling mentally and physically unwell
  • Lethargy at all times
  • Low performance at school or work
  • The risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension or even more serious illness
  • Irritability
  • Problems functioning fully throughout the day

Who Is At Risk of Insomnia?

Does insomnia happen only to adults or do children and teenagers also experience it?

Here are some people at particular risk…

  • People who have no definite work schedules. Working on different shifts can alter your circadian rhythm. This is your body clock. Once your circadian rhythm alters, chances are your sleep patterns will also suffer
  • Females. Hormonal issues play a big role in the disruption of sleep. This is often an issue during a woman’s monthly period. The same risk of insomnia comes along with the menopause. In short, hormonal changes cause sleep problems
  • Medically-compromised people or anyone in generally poor health
  • People with psychological issues
  • Anyone constantly exposed to high stress situations
  • Senior citizens. Old people start experiencing disrupted sleep cycles. They tend to sleep earlier and wake up too early as well. The frequent need to urinate at night can play a big factor. Elderly people often take a lot of medication. Some of these meds can lead to altered sleep patterns

How Do I Know I Have Insomnia?

Exhibiting the symptoms of insomnia is already an indication that you might be suffering from this sleep disorder.

There are some simple questions you can ask yourself but a doctor’s diagnosis is wise for a medically sound opinion.

Here’s a basic self-assessment test to see what the chance of you having insomnia is…

Insomnia Test

There are two ways to check if you have insomnia.

One is through self-assessment which we will tackle below.

The other method is through the diagnosis of a sleep specialist.

If you experience most or even all of these problems then, most likely, you are an insomniac (suffering from insomnia).

Please answer these questions honestly.

Do you…

  • Find it very difficult to get a decent sleep?
  • Easily get awakened?
  • Wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard to fall back to sleep?
  • Have lots on your mind that prevents you from getting to sleep?
  • Wake up very early in the morning?
  • Lie in bed for hours waiting to fall asleep?
  • Expect to go to bed and not be able to sleep?
  • Feel highly stressed because you can’t drop off?
  • Often worry about problems and struggle to sleep?
  • Feel exhausted upon waking up?
  • Feel sleepy all day long?
  • Feel irritable and depressed about not having a good sleep?

Important Note: Self-assessment tests are absolutely no replacement for a doctor’s diagnosis.

These basic tests are simply a means of getting an overview of your sleep health and some idea if you are possibly suffering from insomnia.

Wrap Up

As with other sleep disorders, insomnia is not a disease but rather a manifestation that in some way there is something wrong within your system.

Ultimately, it’s much wiser to see a sleep doctor and get treated rather than deal with it and hope that somehow it will go away.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief collection of information about insomnia and its causes. By identifying the signs of insomnia and perhaps undergoing a simple insomnia test, you’ll be better placed to fight back.

Feel free to contact us with any feedback or questions. We’re always very willing to help in any way we can.

Now pour some hot milk, have a hot bath and sleep well!

Our Top Pick For Sleep Program

Sleep Soundly Again!

Learn More

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