What Is the Main Cause of Insomnia?

Reviewed on 2/18/2021

What Is Insomnia?

Lifestyle and environmental issues like stress, drug and alcohol use and shift work may cause insomnia. Medications, mental, hormonal or neurological disorders may also be a cause of sleeplessness.
Lifestyle and environmental issues like stress, drug and alcohol use and shift work may cause insomnia. Medications, mental, hormonal or neurological disorders may also be a cause of sleeplessness.

Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder and it involves problems falling asleep or staying asleep despite adequate opportunity to do so.

There are three types of insomnia:

What Are Symptoms of Insomnia?

Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Variable sleep
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Decreased motivation or energy
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Persistent worry about sleep

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia may be caused by multiple factors. The main cause of insomnia is believed to be a state of mental and/or physical hyperarousal that interferes with falling asleep or staying asleep.

Causes of insomnia include:

SLIDESHOW

Sleep Disorders: Foods That Help Sleep or Keep You Awake See Slideshow

How Is Insomnia Diagnosed?

Sleep disorders are diagnosed with a patient history and physical exam. Tests or procedures that may be used to diagnose sleep disorders or to rule out other underlying conditions include: 

  • Daily sleep log
  • Sleep study (polysomnography)
  • Record of activity and movement with a monitor or motion detector, generally worn on the wrist throughout the day and night (actigraphy)
  • Home sleep apnea testing 
  • Home devices that monitor breathing, oxygen saturation, position, and heart rate
  • Melatonin sampling 
  • Core body temperature measurements 
  • Hormone tests
  • Electrocardiogram (“ECG”) 
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan 
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain

What Is the Treatment for Insomnia?

Treatment for insomnia includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
  • Sleep education 
  • Sleep restriction or sleep compression  
  • Stimulus control 
  • Sleep hygiene 
  • Relaxation exercises 
  • Sleep medications, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription

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Reviewed on 2/18/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/insomnia-beyond-the-basics

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/insomnia-treatments-beyond-the-basics

http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-causes-insomnia