Insomnia is a very common disorder that affects sleep. The diagnosis is given to someone if
they’re unable to go to sleep, feel unrested after sleep or consistently wake up too early for
at least three months, at least three times each week. Insomnia can contribute to the
development of (or even cause) other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and
Insomnia comes in two types:
Secondary insomnia happens alongside or is caused by other health conditions, or may
occur as a side effect of prescription medication. Most people with chronic insomnia have
secondary insomnia. This can occur long-term (chronic) or short-term (acute).
Primary insomnia is not a symptom or a side effect of another medical condition. It is a
disorder in its own right. After ruling out other medical conditions as a cause, your doctor
may conclude that your sleeplessness is as a result of primary insomnia.
Poor sleep hygiene, biological factors, specific substances and medical or psychiatric
conditions all have the potential to cause secondary insomnia. The human brain has two
cycles: a sleep cycle and a wake cycle. When one cycle turns on, the other turns off – i.e.
when your sleep cycle kicks in, your wake cycle is switched off and vice versa. Insomnia can
occur as a result of an issue with either of these cycles: either too little drive to sleep or too
much drive to wake.
Researchers have only recently started thinking about insomnia as a brain’s inability to stop
being awake, rather than its ability to start being asleep. Before you can hope to recover
from insomnia, you’ll need to understand what it is that’s causing your sleep issues. Some
of the most common causes of insomnia include…
★ Anxiety, depression and stress;
★ Inappropriate room temperature;
★ Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol;
★ Travel exhaustion and jet lag;
★ Shift work;
★ Recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy;
★ Uncomfortable beds;
Chronic insomnia is usually linked to an underlying physical or emotional issue. In cases
where insomnia is tied up to an obvious temporary cause like the breakdown of a
relationship, jet lag or stress over an upcoming presentation, insomnia may only last for a
few days before going away of its own accord. However, insomnia can be stubbornly
persistent in other cases.
Certain individuals can be especially vulnerable to chronic insomnia as a result of their
sleep patterns, attitudes to sleep and the way they behave because of these attitudes,
according to some research. On the bright side, because so many of the causes are
behavioural, there are a great number of highly effective behavioural treatments available.
Biosex Men are at a lower risk for insomnia than biosex women. This may be a result of any
number of biological factors such as pregnancy, menopause, the postpartum period and
the specific hormones released during puberty.
In order to feel rested, most adult women need to get at least seven hours of sleep each
night. It seems women just aren’t making the grade when it comes to getting the right
amount of sleep. For many, sleep comes last, behind kids, relationships, social events,
careers and all other parts of life.
About one in seven adults has chronic (long-term) insomnia. Insomnia symptoms like
trouble staying asleep, difficulty getting to sleep or both are experienced by as many as
25% of women. This can often affect their ability to carry out daily tasks like going to school,
self-care and working.
Low back pain, fibromyalgia, digestive issues and arthritis are just a few of the many painful
conditions that have the potential to keep you awake. Unsurprisingly, your sleep is very
likely to be disrupted if you live with a condition that leaves you in discomfort. Losing sleep
can even make your pain worse: in a small study carried out in 2007, women who were
woken up throughout the night had lower pain thresholds.
Only 36% of people with chronic pain are able to consistently get good sleep, according to
the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll taken in 2015, while 65% of people
without chronic pain were able to sleep well. It can be a good idea to look for a sleep
specialist as well as a doctor who treats pain.
Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease may also cause
Anxiety and Pressure
Stressful events like professional issues, financial difficulties or bereavement can cause
some people to develop insomnia. Having more general worries – for example, about work,
family or health – are also likely to keep you awake at night.
The person can even begin to associate going to bed with being awake, meaning the sleep
issues can continue long after the original problem is resolved. An anxiety about sleep itself
Worrying about not being able to sleep can make situations where your mind is already
racing in bed a whole lot worse.
Appliances After Dark
According to a number of studies on children and adults, the time it takes to get to sleep
and the body’s natural melatonin levels can be affected if the individual is exposed to light
from smartphones or computers before going to sleep.
Another study from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that sleep patterns can be
affected by backlit tablet computers. Technology in the bedroom, it seems, can make
insomnia worse and allow further complications to develop.
Behavioural Insomnia of Childhood
That’s right: Insomnia isn’t just for grown-ups! Behavioural Insomnia of Childhood
describes a condition where children won’t sleep unless a bedtime is enforced by a parent
or guardian. If they aren’t given a strict bedtime, they may end up staying awake for hours
at night. Children tend to fall asleep at a normal hour if they’re made to go to bed at a
specific time each night.
For more information about insomnia, check out The Essential Guide to Insomnia from
Need2Know Books, which covers the sleep process and the symptoms of insomnia,
allowing the reader to identify the key causes to their condition. Whatever the cause of
your insomnia, you deserve to sleep soundly.