What is Middle Insomnia?

Daniel Liden

Middle insomnia is a form of sleeping disorder in which an individual, upon waking up in the middle of the night, is unable to return to sleep. This form of insomnia is also referred to as middle-of-the-night insomnia, nocturnal awakening, and sleep-maintenance insomnia. Generally speaking, the term insomnia can refer to any of a variety of disorders that involve an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Middle insomnia specifically refers to sleeping disorders that involve waking in the middle of the night and being unable to fall asleep again. This typically results in general feelings of fatigue and sleepiness the following day.

A woman with middle insomnia.
A woman with middle insomnia.

There are many different forms of insomnia with many different causes and symptoms. In one common form, individuals find it very difficult to fall asleep in the first place, though they tend to sleep through the night when they do finally fall asleep. Middle insomnia is the most common of the different forms of the sleep disorder and can be traced to many different causes, both internal and external to the individual.

Watching TV before going to bed can contribute to insomnia.
Watching TV before going to bed can contribute to insomnia.

Middle insomnia can be caused by a variety of physical or mental factors. Pain is often a cause of waking up late at night and can cause difficulties falling asleep later. Sleep apnea or other breathing disorders can also cause middle insomnia in some cases. In some cases, waking up frequently during the night is caused by a need to urinate. Occasionally, the cause is simply loud noise; a train passing by one's house or crying children in the other room could cause one to wake up at night.

There are also several mental and emotional issues that can cause middle insomnia. Anxiety, for example, can cause one to wake up frequently. Stress in general can have similar effects; if one is constantly thinking about problems in his life, consistent sleep can be difficult to achieve. More serious mental disorders, such as severe depression, have been known to have similar effects in some people.

It is important, then, to first treat the root causes of middle insomnia rather than to attempt to confront the nighttime waking as the cause itself. The problem can often be linked back to some other root cause, such as sleep apnea, which can and should be treated to prevent nighttime waking or other, more serious issues it can cause. If all else fails, though, there are several different medications that are available to help those with various sleep disorders to sleep through the night. Generally, they are effective for six hours or more, so it is important to get a full night's sleep when using such sleeping medications.

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