Insomnia Causes: Types, Diagnosis, Treatment and Recommendations

It is a common sleep disorder. You can stay awake for a long time and have trouble falling asleep or feel that you have not slept.

Insomnia tends to increase as women and men get older. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. If you have insomnia, you can:

  • Stay awake for a long time and have trouble falling asleep.
  • Wake up many times and have difficulty going back to sleep.
  • Wake up too early in the morning.
  • Feel that you have not slept at all.

The lack of sleep or the poor quality causes other symptoms that can affect daytime functioning. You may feel very sleepy and have low energy during the day. You may have trouble thinking clearly or staying focused. Or, you may feel depressed or irritable.

Insomnia is defined as a brief and poor quality sleep that affects its functioning during the day. Although the amount of sleep a person need varies, most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed.

Insomnia can be mild to severe and varies in how often it occurs and its duration. Acute insomnia is a short-term sleep problem usually related to a stressful or traumatic life event and lasts from a few days to a few weeks.

Acute insomnia can occur from time to time. Sleep problems occur at least three nights a week for more than a month with chronic insomnia.

What are the different types of insomnia, and what causes them?

It is not always clear what causes insomnia, but stress and anxiety are common triggers. A poor sleep environment, such as an uncomfortable bed or a noisy bedroom, could also cause.


Otherwise, lifestyle factors such as jet lag, shift work, or alcohol before bedtime can keep you from sleeping well at night.

And for others, physical and mental health conditions are behind their lack of sleep.

There are two types of insomnia:

Primary insomnia is not a symptom or side effect of another medical condition. It’s your mess. It can last a lifetime or be triggered by travel, shift work, stressful life events, or other factors that interrupt your sleep routine.

Primary insomnia can end once the problem is resolved or last for years. Some people tend to be prone to primary insomnia.

Secondary insomnia: has an underlying cause, so it is a symptom or side effect of something else. It is the most common type. Secondary insomnia can have a medical reasons, such as:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Chronic pain such as fibromyalgiamigraine, or arthritis.
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn.
  • Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.
  • Alzheimer disease.
  • Menopause.

Secondary insomnia can also be the result of:

  • Some medications, such as those that treat asthma, heart problems, allergies, and colds.
  • Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol.
  • Poor environment to sleep (like too much light or noise, or a bed partner who snores).

Secondary insomnia often disappears once the underlying cause is treated, but it can become primary insomnia.

Some people with primary or secondary insomnia form habits to cope with lack of sleep, such as worrying about rest or going to bed too early. These habits can make insomnia worse or last longer.

Other Causes

Insomnia can be a consequence or a symptom of another problem, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, headache disorders, sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, or signs of menopause such as hot flashes.

Certain medications, such as asthma and cold medicine, can cause insomnia. Commonly used substances such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol can cause insomnia.

The research also suggests that exposure to light at night may contribute to insomnia such as computer screens or smartphones.

In some cases, insomnia is not a side effect of another problem, but significant changes in life, prolonged stress, and travel can trigger primary insomnia.

Physical and psychological factors can cause insomnia. Sometimes, an underlying medical condition causes chronic insomnia, whereas transient insomnia may be due to an event or recent occurrence. The most common causes are:

  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Noise.
  • A room that is very hot or cold.
  • Uncomfortable beds
  • Alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine
  • Recreational drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy.
  • Jet lag.
  • I work in shifts.

Insomnia is commonly caused by:

Interruptions in the circadian rhythm: sleep disorder by several time zones, shift changes, high altitudes, environmental noise, extreme heat or cold.

Psychological problems: bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, or psychotic disorders.

Medical conditions: chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, angina, acid reflux disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, brain lesions, tumors, stroke.

Hormones: estrogen, hormonal changes during menstruation.

Other factors: sleeping next to a partner who snores, parasites, genetic conditions, overactive mind, pregnancy.

Are there more Women than Men with Insomnia?

Women are more likely to have insomnia than men. One reason is that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and menopause can affect sleep.

During perimenopause, women may have problems falling asleep and falling asleep. Hot flashes and night sweats can often disturb sleep.

During pregnancy, hormonal, physical, and emotional changes can disturb sleep. Pregnant women, especially in the third trimester, may wake up frequently due to discomfort, leg cramps, or the need to use the bathroom.

Some medical conditions that can cause secondary insomnia are also more common in women than men. These include depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome.

How is Insomnia Diagnosed?

Talk to your doctor if you have trouble falling asleep, mainly if lack of sleep affects your daily activities. Keep a sleep diary for two weeks before seeing your doctor.

Consider the time of day when you fall asleep and wake up, changes in your daily sleep routine, your bedtime routine, and how you feel during the day.

Your doctor can do a physical exam and take medical and sleep histories. They may also want to talk with your bed partner about how much and how well you are sleeping.

You may be referred to a specialist or a sleep center for special exams in some cases.

How is insomnia treated?

If insomnia is caused by a short-term change in the sleep/wake schedule, as with jet lag, your sleep schedule can return to normal by itself. Making lifestyle changes to help you sleep better can also help. If your insomnia makes it difficult for you to function during the day, talk to your doctor.

Treatment for chronic insomnia begins with:

  • Find and treat any medical or mental health problems.
  • Stop or reduce behaviors that can lead to insomnia or worsen, such as drinking moderate to large amounts of alcohol at night.

Other treatments are:

Behavioral Cognitive Therapy

Research shows that cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective and lasting treatment of insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you change thoughts and actions that get in the way of sleep. This type of therapy also treats depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy consists of one or more approaches. These are:

Cognitive control and psychotherapy: control or stop the negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake.

Sleep hygiene: Take measures to make quality sleep more likely, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, not smoking, avoiding drinking too much coffee or alcohol at the end of the day, and exercising regularly.

Sleep restriction: equalize the time you spend in bed with the amount of sleep you need. This is achieved by limiting the amount of time you spend in your bed without sleeping. You go to bed later and get up earlier than usual, and then slowly increase the time in bed until you can sleep through the night.

Stimulus control: conditioning a positive response when getting into bed. For example, use the bed only for sleep and sex.

Relaxation training: reduces stress and body tension. This may include meditation, hypnosis, or muscle relaxation.

Biofeedback: measures the actions of the body, such as muscle tension and the frequency of brain waves, to help control them.

Stay passively awake: try not to fall asleep, thus stopping any worry you may have about falling asleep quickly.


In some cases, insomnia is treated with medications:

Prescription sleeping medications can help some people get the much-needed rest.

Most sleep medications are used for short-term treatment, although some people with severe chronic insomnia may benefit from more prolonged treatment.

It is essential to understand the risks before using a medication to sleep. In some cases, sleeping medications may:

  • Become a habit
  • Mask medical problems that may be causing insomnia and delay treatment.
  • Interact with other medicines you use and cause serious health problems.
  • Causing drowsiness or rebound insomnia, where sleeping problems get worse.

Uncommon side effects of sleeping medications include:

  • Severe allergic reactions or facial swelling.
  • High blood pressure, dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion, or short-term memory loss.
  • Complex behaviors related to sleep, such as bingeing or driving while asleep.

Over-the-counter sleep aid: Over-the-counter sleep medications can help in an occasional sleepless night but are not for regular or long-term use. Most over-the-counter sleep medications contain antihistamines.

Antihistamines are not safe for some people to use. Over-the-counter sleep medications can also have unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, dizziness, and prolonged drowsiness.

Some dietary supplements claim to help people sleep. Some are “natural” products, such as melatonin. Others are food supplements, such as teas or valerian extracts (an herb). It is not clear if these products are safe or work.

Talk with your doctor about sleeping problems before using a sleep aid. You may have a medical problem that needs to be treated. In addition, insomnia can be better treated in other ways.

If you decide to use a medication to sleep, experts advise you to:

  • Read the medication guide first.
  • Use the medicine at the time indicated by your doctor.
  • Do not drive or participate in activities that require you to be alert.
  • Always take the dose prescribed by your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor about other medications you use.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any problems while using the medicine.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and using drugs.
  • Talk to your doctor if you want to stop using the sleeping pill. Some medications should be stopped gradually.

What can I do to sleep better?

  • Try to go to bed simultaneously every night and get up at the same time every morning. Do not take naps after 3 pm
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol at late hours of the day or night.
  • Do physical activity regularly. But exercise or physical activity that takes place too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep. Be sure to eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Keep your room dark, silent, and calm. If the light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a “white noise” machine to cover the sounds.
  • Follow a routine to help you relax and relax before you sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
  • If you can not fall asleep in 20 minutes or do not feel drowsy, get out of bed and sit in your room or another room. Read or do a quiet activity until you feel sleepy. Then try to go back to bed.
  • If you stay awake worrying about things, try to make a list of things to do before going to bed, so you do not have to worry about the time you spend in bed.
  • Use your bed only to sleep and have sex.
  • Consult your doctor or a sleep specialist if you think you have insomnia or another problem sleeping.