Insomnia Causes

Insomnia is caused mainly due to many reasons. The causes are mainly divided into medical or psychiatric conditions, situational factors, or primary sleep disorders. Depending upon the classification, the causes are as follows:

Short-term and Transient Insomnia

The causes are similar and they include:

  • Presence of an acute surgical or medical illness
  • Changes in shift work
  • Jet lag
  • Unpleasant or excessive noise
  • Uncomfortable room temperature
  • Stressful situations in life like the loss of a loved one, exam preparation, unemployment, separation or divorce.
  • Withdrawal from alcohol, sedative, drugs, or stimulant medications
  • Insomnia related to high altitude
  • Presence of an acute medical or surgical illness

Causes of Chronic or Long-Term Insomnia

The majority of causes of chronic or long-term insomnia are usually linked to an underlying psychiatric or physiological (medical) condition.

Psychological Causes of Insomnia

The most common psychological problems that may lead to insomnia include:

  • Mania or bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mental, situational, or emotional stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Insomnia may be an indicator of depression. Many people will have insomnia during the acute phases of a mental illness.

Physiological Causes of Insomnia

The following are the most common medical conditions that trigger insomnia:

  • Brain tumors, strokes, or trauma to the brain
  • Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Nocturnal asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Night time angina from heart problems
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic pain syndromes


High Risk Groups for Insomnia

In addition to people with the above medical conditions, certain groups may be at higher risk for developing insomnia:

  • Alcoholics
  • People who abuse drugs
  • Menopausal women
  • Pregnant women
  • Young adults or students in their adolescents
  • Seniors
  • Shift workers with frequent shift change
  • Travelers

Medication Related Insomnia

Certain medications have also been associated with insomnia. Among them are:

  • Medications used to treat anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia
  • Medicines used to treat high blood pressure
  • Medications that contain stimulants are associated with poor sleep
  • Certain over the counter asthma and cold preparations

Other Causes of Insomnia

  • Stimulants that are associated with poor sleep include nicotine and caffeine. You must limit your total daily intake and restrict the use of these in the hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol is usually used to induce sleep by some people. However, it is a poor choice. It is associated with sleep disruption, which gives a poor sleep in the morning.
  • A bed partner with periodic leg movements or snoring can disrupt your good night sleep.