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Insomnia: causes, symptoms, types, prevention, and more

Insomnia is a common sleep problem that can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake you up too early and leave you unable to sleep again. Upon waking, you may still be fatigued. Not only will lack of sleep have a toll on your energy level, emotions, and professional and personal life, but it can also have significant health implications.

How much sleep is sufficient varies by individual, but most individuals require seven to eight hours per night.

While it's true that acute insomnia is something most adults experience at some point, it tends to continue for days or weeks. It is frequently caused by stress or a stressful incident. In contrast, there are others who suffer a chronic form of insomnia that lasts for over a month. An inability to sleep at night may be the fundamental issue, or it may be a symptom of a medical condition or prescription drug.

You are not obligated to endure sleepless nights. Simple modifications to your regular routines can frequently be beneficial.

Insomnia Types

Two types of insomnia exist: main and secondary.
  • This suggests that your sleep troubles are unrelated to any other health condition or issue.
  • Secondary insomnia occurs as a result of a medical condition (such as asthma, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medicine; or substance usage (like alcohol).

Additionally, you may hear about:

Insomnia that presents itself as difficulty falling asleep: this is the issue.
  • Sleep-maintenance insomnia: This occurs when you have difficulty sleeping through the night or waking up excessively early.
  • Mixed insomnia: This type of insomnia is characterised by difficulty getting asleep and remaining asleep throughout the night.
  • Paradoxical insomnia: When you suffer from paradoxical insomnia, you grossly underestimate the amount of time spent sleeping. It appears as though you sleep significantly less than you actually do.


Symptoms of insomnia may include the following:
  • Difficulty sleeping at night
  • Awakening in the middle of the night
  • Oversleeping
  • Not feeling rested following a night's sleep
  • Tiredness or drowsiness during the day
  • Intolerance, despair, or anxiety
  • Difficulty focusing on work, paying attention, or remembering
  • Increased incidences of errors or accidents
  • Constant concerns about sleep

Diagnosis of Insomnia

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and inquire about your medical and sleep histories.

They may suggest that you keep a sleep journal for a week or two, recording your sleep habits and how you feel throughout the day. They may speak with your bed partner about the amount and quality of sleep you are getting. Additionally, you may undergo additional examinations at a sleep centre.


Insomnia may be the fundamental issue or it may be a symptom of another disorder.

Chronic insomnia is typically caused by stress, life events, or sleep-disrupting habits. While treating the underlying cause can alleviate the insomnia, it can occasionally continue for years.

Frequent persistent insomnia causes include:

  • Stress. Work, school, health, finances, or family concerns might keep your mind active at night, making sleep difficult. Stressful life events or trauma — such as a loved one's death or illness, divorce, or job loss — can also contribute to insomnia.
  • Schedule of travel or employment. Your internal clock helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism, and body temperature. Insomnia can result from disrupting your body's circadian rhythms. Jet lag from crossing numerous time zones, working a late or early shift, or often changing shifts are all possible causes.
  • Inadequate sleep patterns. Inadequate sleep habits include an erratic bedtime routine, naps, stimulating activities prior to bed, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, and using your bed for work, eating, or watching television. Computers, televisions, video games, smartphones, and other devices can all disrupt your sleep cycle immediately before bed.
  • Consuming an excessive amount of food late in the evening. While a modest snack prior to night is acceptable, consuming too much may induce physical discomfort while lying down. Many people also suffer from heartburn, which is a backflow of acid and food from the stomach into the oesophagus following a meal. This condition might keep you awake.
Chronic insomnia may also be related with certain medical disorders or drug use. While treating the underlying medical problem may aid in sleep improvement, the insomnia may linger after the underlying medical condition is resolved. Complications of Insomnia

Our bodies and minds require sleep to restore themselves. Additionally, it is necessary for learning and memory retention. If insomnia is keeping you up, you could be suffering from one of the following:
  • A greater risk of developing health conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and depression
  • If you are an older woman, you face a greater chance of falling.
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Anxiety
  • Grumpiness
  • A car crash caused by sluggish reaction time.

Factors of danger

Almost everyone experiences a sleepless night on occasion. However, your risk of sleeplessness is increased if you:
  • You are a female. Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation and menopause may play an impact. During menopause, when night sweats and hot flashes occur, sleep is usually disrupted. Pregnancy is also associated with insomnia.
  • You are over the age of 60. Insomnia becomes more prevalent as people age due to changes in sleep patterns and health.
  • You are suffering from a mental health disorder or a physical health problem. Numerous factors affecting your mental or physical health can cause sleep disturbances.
  • You're under a great deal of strain. Periods of stress and traumatic events might result in temporary sleeplessness. Additionally, prolonged or severe stress might result in persistent sleeplessness.
  • You do not maintain a consistent schedule. Changing shifts at work or travelling, for example, can throw off your sleep-wake cycle.

Preventing Insomnia

Sleep hygiene, or good sleep habits, can assist you in overcoming insomnia. Here are some suggestions:
  • Each night, go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. Avoid taking naps throughout the day, as they may cause you to feel less drowsy at night.
  • Before going to bed, avoid using phones or e-books. Their light may make falling asleep more difficult.
  • Reduce your intake of coffee, nicotine, and alcohol in the evening. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, which means they can keep you awake. Alcohol might cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and impair the quality of your sleep.
  • Maintain a regular exercise regimen. Avoid exercising close before bedtime, as this may make falling asleep more difficult. Experts recommend exercising at least three to four hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid eating a large dinner late in the day. However, a modest snack prior to bedtime may aid with sleep.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable by keeping it dark, quiet, and not excessively warm or chilly. If light is an issue, consider wearing a sleeping mask. Use earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to drown out background noise.
  • Establish a pattern for winding down before bed. Do something relaxing like reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
  • Don't utilise anything but sleep and sex with your bed.
  • If you're having difficulty falling asleep and are not drowsy, get up and do something relaxing, such as reading, until you feel sleepy.
  • If you have a proclivity for lying awake and worrying about things, create a to-do list before going to bed. This may assist you in putting your worries aside for the evening.