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Insomnia (cont.)

What Signs and Symptoms Accompany Insomnia, and How Does Insomnia Affect Health?

Doctors associate a variety of signs and symptoms with insomnia. Often, these symptoms complicate other medical or mental health conditions.

  • Some people with insomnia may complain of difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night. The problem may begin with stress. Then, as you begin to associate the bed with your inability to sleep, the problem may become chronic.
  • Most often daytime symptoms will bring people to seek medical attention. Daytime problems caused by insomnia include the following:
    • Poor concentration and focus
    • Difficulty with memory
    • Impaired motor coordination (being uncoordinated)
    • Irritability and impaired social interaction
    • Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers
  • People may worsen these daytime symptoms by their own attempts to treat the symptoms.
    • Alcohol and antihistamines may compound the problems with sleep deprivation.
    • Others have tried nonprescription sleep aids.

Many people with insomnia do not complain of daytime sleepiness, and in fact, they may have difficulty falling asleep during intentional daytime naps.

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia may be caused by a host of different reasons. These causes may be divided into situational factors, medical or psychiatric conditions, or primary sleep problems.

Many of the causes of transient and short-term insomnia are similar and they include:

  • Jet lag
  • Changes in shift work
  • Excessive or unpleasant noise
  • Uncomfortable room temperature (too hot or too cold)
  • Stressful situations in life (exam preparation, loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, or separation)
  • Presence of an acute medical or surgical illness or hospitalization
  • Withdrawal from drug, alcohol, sedative, or stimulant medications
  • Insomnia related to high altitude (mountains)

Uncontrolled physical symptoms (pain, fever, breathing problems, nasal congestion, cough, diarrhea, etc.) can also cause someone to have insomnia. Controlling these symptoms and their underlying causes may lead to resolution of insomnia.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/25/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Insomnia »

Insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with the initiation, duration, maintenance, or quality of sleep that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep that results in some form of daytime impairment.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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