What Causes Insomnia?

what causes insomnia

While some people have no problems with sleeping, for others it can be a nightly struggle.  

If you suffer from insomnia, you would have experienced trouble with falling asleep or staying asleep. About one third of the population have reported symptoms of insomnia. Not only does insomnia affect the quality of sleep, it can also impact on the quality of everyday life. 

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is characterised as the persistent difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep (or both) even when there is adequate opportunity or circumstance for sleep and results in or is associated with impairment in daytime function or anxiety and distress. 

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia can manifest differently. For some people, they may have trouble initially falling asleep. For others, even if they can fall asleep, they may not be able to stay asleep for as long as they would like. Or they may wake up during the night and not be able to go back to sleep for a long time. You may experience any combination of these three.

It's not surprising that disrupted sleep can make it difficult to function normally during the day and to experience forgetfulness, irritability, anxiety (general anxiety or sleep anxiety) and tension headaches. 

What causes insomnia?

There are lots of different reasons for what causes insomnia. Sometimes it can occur for no obvious reason and other times, there can be physiological, psychological or environmental factors at play:

  • Poor sleep habits such as lack of a regular bedtime routine, naps during the day, stimulating activities before bed or poor sleep environment can influence sleep. 
  • Travel or work schedule such as shift work or jet lag from travelling across different time zones can wreak havoc on the body's natural circadian rhythm. 
  • Substances such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and prescription medicines can dramatically affect your ability to sleep.
  • Stress at work or in your personal life, such as concerns about finances, work or relationships, or stressful life events such as the death of a loved one can keep you awake at night.  
  • Medical conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, asthma or hormonal changes in the body such as pregnancy and menopause can influence sleep.
  • Mental health disorders  — insomnia can be a symptom of anxiety, depression or other disorders.
  • Life stage elderly people are more likely to have insomnia.

Tips for preventing Insomnia 

For some people, chronic insomnia suffers may need formal treatment such as prescription medicine or cognitive behavioral therapy. For others, practicing healthy lifestyle habits and good sleep routine may improve sleep, such as:

  • Regular exercise and eating healthy
  • Removing naps, especially late in the day
  • Restricting alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, especially in the evening
  • Avoiding late-night meals
  • Reducing screen time before bed
  • Follow a regular sleep routine which includes a consistent bedtime and wake up time.
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The contents of Sleep Quizzz are for informational and educational purposes only. It is intended to be a tool for our readers to use for self-assessment. Nothing found on our website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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