What are Common Causes of Insomnia?

The causes of insomnia can generally be broken down into three categories: physical causes, psychological causes, and temporary changes. Some causes of insomnia are more serious than others, but in many cases, insomnia can be combated with simple or more in-depth treatment at home or by professionals. Persistent insomnia can be indicative of a larger, more serious problem, and a doctor should be consulted to determine the causes of insomnia in the more severe cases.

Physical causes of insomnia include injuries or medical conditions, such as asthma, arthritis, or other illnesses that cause discomfort. Arthritis can be painful at any time of day, so persistent pain from this or similar conditions can cause the sufferer to lie awake at night. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen can help, but in more severe cases, a more aggressive treatment may be necessary. The onset of menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy in women can also cause insomnia, and these conditions will require the attention of a professional.


Stress and anxiety are two very common causes of insomnia in the psychological category. Anxiety is a condition in which a sufferer feels increased tension, unease, apprehension, or fear. This may stem from common, day-to-day struggles, such as work issues, financial woes, or relationship problems. These psychological barriers can keep a sufferer from relaxing enough to be able to fall asleep. Meditation can help alleviate some stress and anxiety, but in some more severe cases, medication may be necessary. Again, it is important to consult a doctor if the problems persist.

Mood-affecting drugs and alcohol are other common causes of insomnia. While a small amount of alcohol before bed can have a relaxing effect, too much alcohol can cause restlessness and disturbed sleep. Perhaps the most common drug that can affect sleep patterns is caffeine; drinking tea or coffee shortly before bed can keep the user from falling asleep for several hours, or cause waking after only a short period of time sleeping.

Changes in sleeping arrangements can also cause insomnia. Sleeping in a new environment after moving, sleeping in a foreign place such as a hotel, or sleeping in uncomfortable places can all affect the way a sufferer sleeps, or wakes. Shifts in time zones can also affect sleeping patterns; jet lag is a common cause of disrupted sleep, and a few days is usually necessary to adjust to new time zones.



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