Causes of insomnia

Although there are many causes of insomnia, two are considered to be the major culprits, these are psychological causes and physical causes.

Psychological issues can cause insomnia.

  • Anxiety or a feeling where people feel increased tension, apprehension.
  • There are feelings of fear, worry and uncertainty. These can occur due to other people’s effects on us.
  • There can be financial worries, concerns over relationships or many other causes.
  • Stress could be another cause of insomnia. A person has to effectively cope with any emotional, physical, social and economic factors which induce response.
  • Another factor or cause of insomnia can be depression. Depression is caused due to mood disturbance. This can be characterized by feelings such as sadness, despair and discouragement.

Lack of a good night’s sleep can create psychological problems. For your psychological problems, you can take professional counseling from a doctor, therapist or sleep specialist. These specialists can help you cope with any of these conditions.

Physical causes of insomnia.


  • These can be hormonal changes in women. Hormonal changes can include premenstrual syndrome, menstruation, pregnancy and also menopause.
  • Another factor which can cause insomnia is decreased melatonin. The levels of melatonin decrease as the person grows older. This is a hormone that helps control sleep. By the time a person reaches the age of 60, the body produces very little melatonin.
  • Insomnia is also a symptom of hyperthyroidism.

Medical conditions can be another factor to cause insomnia.

Medical factors can include allergies, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson’s disease. Pain and discomfort from a medical injury often disturbs the sleep. Sleep apnea is a state where one temporarily stops breathing during sleep. This can be another factor which can lead to lack of sleep. You could also have periodic leg and arm movements during sleep.

Some temporary events or factors can lead to lack of sleep.

This can include adjustment sleep disorder. Sleeplessness due to this is a reaction to change or stress. This kind of sleeplessness may be caused due to a traumatic event. This can include illness or loss of a loved one. This can also include a minor event such as a change in the weather or a strong argument with someone. Some people also get insomnia due to jet lag due to difference in time zones. Individuals working night shifts also encounter sleeplessness. If you are working in night shifts, it can be troublesome to adjust your sleeping habits.

Insomnia could also be a side effect of medications like Lipitor.

Lipitor is a drug used for lowering cholesterol levels. However, this drug can cause serious side effects. One of these is that Lipitor causes insomnia.

Why take Lipitor?

Atorvastatin, which is the generic name for Lipitor, is something that is used in the fight against high cholesterol levels. It blocks the production of cholesterol in the body. This is therefore an important drug for many because it reduces the risk of heart attack or other coronary diseases.

Side effects

There can be serious side effects when taking this drug. One of these is that the drug causes sleeplessness. Sometimes you might only get a couple of hours a night. Therefore, make sure that the problem you have with cholesterol is severe enough to call upon using Lipitor.

The body needs certain levels of cholesterol to function. Therefore, taking this drug might be actually creating another problem, which is that your body is now lacking appropriate levels of cholesterol. This is something that needs to be considered in relation to this drug.

How to sleep while on Lipitor?

When it comes to insomnia it is important to note that there are medicines to help you sleep if Lipitor is something that is essentially necessary for you to take. Remember, however, that these sleep aiding drugs are not meant to be taken for a long period of time. This is why Lipitor should also be used only for a short period when cholesterol levels are at a point where taking the drug is necessary.

In addition to insomnia you may experience fatigue while on this drug. Therefore, it does not work in a way that perks you up, but rather creates insomnia so that you cannot sleep and because of not getting sleep you feel constantly tired.

These are some of the reasons Lipitor causes insomnia. Consult your doctor about other medicines and remedies for high cholesterol before deciding to undertake Lipitor treatment.


Excessive consumption of caffeine can also lead to sleeplessness.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a colorless and flavorless addictive drug that is found in many of the foods and drinks that we all consume. Coffee contains large amounts of this stimulant. It can also be found in cola drinks as well as chocolate. Often medications use caffeine to produce a stimulating effect. To most people it causes a more alert state, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Different people are affected differently. Some can drink many cups without effect on how they sleep. Some are more sensitive. This is usually dependent on how your metabolism has adjusted to caffeine.

Caffeine and Sugar

Many products combine caffeine with sugar. Some of these are chocolate, cocoa and sodas. Sugar acts with the caffeine to produce an increased stimulating effect. Energy drinks are also filled with caffeine, sugar and other stimulating substances. This is why they can causeinsomnia when used before bedtime. For some people the effects can last for several hours. This should be taken into account if insomnia occurs after caffeine ingestion.

How Caffeine Works on Your Brain?

Caffeine stimulates the brain in same ways as amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin. Although the effects of caffeine are milder than other drugs, it is still causing your brain to function differently than normally. If you are not able to function without the aid of caffeine in your life, then you are likely to be addicted to it. If your sleep is disrupted for more than two weeks, then it is likely that you are suffering from insomnia. By leaving out caffeine from your diet, you can test whether this is the cause of your insomnia.

Cigarette smoking, especially before bed time is another cause of insomnia.

There are several contributors to lack of sleep. Some of the reasons for people not being able to sleep are in what they ingest. Therefore, if you drink caffeine or other stimulants before bedtime, it might prevent you from falling asleep. Cigarettes are a stimulant too. This is why they can also be in the way of getting to sleep. If you smoke a cigarette before bedtime it causes an elevation in your alertness and diminishes drowsiness.

Symptoms of Smoking Cigarettes Before Bedtime

  • Alertness
  • Elevation in blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Faster reaction time
  • Insomnia

All of these reasons make it more difficult to fall asleep. It is because alertness and increased heart rate make you feel as if you should be focusing and getting ready for physical activity. Smoking produces stimulations in nerve ending throughout the body. This makes sleep more difficult to achieve. Smoking cigarettes before bedtime can affect your ability to fall asleep by reducing the amount of serotonin produced in the pineal gland in the brain. This chemical substance causes us to fall asleep. When the amount of it is reduced, you are not able to get to sleep.

Remedies for Cigarette Related Sleeplessness

One obvious cure to insomnia caused by cigarettes is to quit smoking. This is the most effective way to cure cigarette related insomnia. But this might be difficult to achieve because cigarettes form a powerful addiction because they affect the way the pleasure centers in the brain, operated through endorphins, are activated.

If it is not possible to quit smoking there are other ways that cigarette related insomnia can be alleviated. If you need to continue smoking, do so a good while before bedtime. The effects of cigarette smoking do not last for many hours. Therefore, stopping smoking right before bedtime is a good way to reduce the symptoms of insomnia caused by cigarettes.

Causes of Chronic Insomnia

If one does not deal with insomnia in the initial stages, there is every chance that it can develop into a chronic issue.

What is Chronic Insomnia?

When you are unable to sleep for at least six hours a night, you are suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is chronic, meaning long term, when it lasts for more than one year in a row. It is characterized by these factors:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Not getting any sleep in the morning
  • Waking up during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Feeling unrefreshed when waking up

Why do People Suffer from Chronic Insomnia?

Age. Aging is one of the most common factors contributing to chronic insomnia. This is why elderly people are most likely to suffer from this condition.

Elderly people are more prone to sleep problems and the condition is considered as elderly insomnia. Adults usually require a sleep of seven to eight hours every night. As they age, the need for sleep reduces as the sleep patterns change with change in body’s metabolic activities. There are certain causes and symptoms of elderly insomnia that lead to sleepless nights.

Elderly Insomnia – Causes

There are many causes of insomnia in the elderly. Some causes can be treated and some more cannot be treated. The causes of elderly insomnia are divided into 4 categories. They are as follows.

Physical Causes

  • Lung problems like asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), etc
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Prostate and bladder problems
  • Long-term pain
  • Sleep apnea
  • Epilepsy
  • Joint diseases like bursitis or arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Behavioral/Environmental Causes

  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Late-night exercises
  • Late-night eating
  • Noise

Drugs

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola drinks, etc)
  • Certain antidepressant medicines
  • Nicotine
  • Certain medications can wake you up at nights such as diuretics
  • Stimulant medicines

Mental

  • Anxiety
  • Depression due to factors – death of a family member, loss of personal identity and retirement
  • Stress due to factors – poor health and financial problems

Elderly Insomnia – Signs and Symptoms

Adults suffering from insomnia face many signs and symptoms.

  • They have greater memory of being awake i.e they wake up nearly 3 – 4 times in the night.
  • They find it very hard to fall asleep.
  • They feel that they are lacking enough sleep because more time is spent in light sleep and very less time in dreamless and deep sleep. But the total sleep time remains the same.
  • There will be very short span of time between being asleep and awakening. This is the reason elderly insomniacs feel their sleep is light.
  • A confusion between days and nights
  • Internal clock system i.e getting accustomed to sleep at the time when the body is used to be alert and functioning.

Childhood Insomnia

Most people assume that insomnia is only an adult problem. Though insomnia is common among adults, sometimes children also develop this condition. The causes of insomnia in adults are a bit difficult to figure out, but the causes of childhood insomnia can be easily found.

Causes of Childhood Insomnia

  • Upset stomach

    This is a very common cause of childhood insomnia in children. If the child is suffering from upset stomach or stomach pain associated with constipation, it can certainly lead to insomnia problem in the child. See to it whether the child is taking proper meals and having correct bowel movements.

  • Stress

    Stress is a common cause for insomnia in adults, but it also can be a cause for insomnia in children. There may be various reasons that can stress out the children such as tough time in the school, certain things that cause tension around the home and facing problems of bullying. These all conditions cause insomnia in children.

  • Sleep Apnea

    Children are also affected by sleep apnea just like adults. This is the condition where they suddenly stop breathing during the sleep. If this is the cause, you need to take your child immediately to the physician. Inspite of sleeping for longer hours, if your child is still having tiredness, the condition may be sleep apnea.

  • Pain

    Pain that may arise from many conditions can also be the cause of childhood insomnia. Children suffering from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia can even experience insomnia due to the intense pains. Also, the child may experience muscle cramps while playing sports that can keep them awake at nights.

Other Causes of Insomnia

Depression

Psychological conditions can cause chronic insomnia. Depression will cause the mind and body to not be able to achieve rejuvenation when sleeping.

Stress

Also stress, if experienced for long periods of time, can be a reason for a person developing chronic insomnia.

Bipolar disorder

This is another psychological condition that can affect sleep.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

This is one other psychological condition can cause chronic insomnia with people who are affected.

Caffeine

This as well as other stimulating substances can cause chronic insomnia if they are ingested on a regular basis.

Alcohol

This might induce sleep but it is also know to make sleep less refreshing and cause people to wake up earlier in the morning. This is because alcohol, along with other sedatives, causes fragmented sleep.

Medical conditions

There are many medical conditions that can affect sleep. The anxiety and discomfort caused by the physiological condition is to blame for the difficulty in finding sleep. Some of these conditions include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart failure
  • Asthma
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Parkinson’s disease

Terminal Insomnia

Terminal insomnia is a type of insomnia which is just a devastating signal, but not as dangerous as the name suggests. Of course it causes a lot of effects on the body. The following article discusses about the terminal insomnia causes, that differ slightly from the insomnia causes. Terminal insomnia is a condition where you can sleep well for first few hours, but wake up suddenly and again you cannot go back to sleep again. The immediate effects of terminal insomnia make you feel weak and tired to a very extreme state.

Terminal insomnia causes can be categorized into 2 factors – physical and emotional. The causes of terminal insomnia are as follows:

Physical Causes

  • One of the main physical causes of terminal insomnia is fatigue. This sometimes can be a health issue that causes you to wake up in nights. It can be both a cause as well as symptom of terminalinsomnia.
  • Even certain other factors like changes in environmental temperature can also make you wake up suddenly and you will not be able to sleep back again.
  • The sudden increase of noises in the early morning can also cause terminal insomnia, especially in light sleepers.

Emotional Causes

  • Any sort of emotional feelings which lead to depression, frustration and anger can result in terminal insomnia.
  • If you do not tend to face the emotional problem or feel that there is no need to communicate with others about this condition, this indicates that you are suffering from terminalinsomnia condition.
  • The repressed feelings throw you out to the subconscious state, where they will be bothersome to you and affect the sleep.

Some people will be able to function effectively even with 4 – 5 hours of sleep, unlike some others who can work effectively only if they get total 7 – 8 hours of sleep. Terminal insomnia condition affects the people of latter category the most. People who are under the former category are also affected but to a little extent.

Insomnia is not a disorder by itself but, in fact, a symptom. It is thus, important to know the causes of insomnia in order to treat it effectively.