Insomnia – Symptoms and Causes


Insomnia is the most common form of sleep disorder that affects millions around the world. Insomnia symptoms can be identified with fatigue, low level of energy, lack of concentration, mood swings, and decreased level of performance. People suffering from insomnia do not feel well rested and refreshed after they wake up from sleeping. Insomnia can seem like a normal disorder but it can be the cause of several chronic diseases.

Insomnia Symptoms

The persistent problem of falling or staying asleep is termed as insomnia. It is important to identify the insomnia symptoms to determine the seriousness of the problem. The most common insomnia symptoms include:

  • Staying awake for a long time or having difficulty in falling asleep
  • Sleeping for a short span of time
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and having difficulty falling asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness or tiredness during daytime
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased mistakes and accidents
  • Irritability, anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty in paying attention, focusing on a task or remembering details
  • Feeling sluggish and cranky

Insomnia causes

Insomnia Causes

What really causes insomnia? Insomnia can be caused due to several factors which include:

Medical Conditions

  • Diabetes: Diabetic patients often experience insomnia due to night sweats, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar level) and a frequent need to urinate.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: If the person has restless leg syndrome (feeling a need to move legs due to uncomfortable sensation in the legs) or damaged nerves in the leg then the need for night movement or pain in the leg can also interrupt sleep.
  • Heart-failure: People with heart failure may also have difficulty in sleeping as they can be awakened in the middle of the night due to the shortness of breath because when the patient lies down the extra body fluid pile up around their lungs. These people can also be awakened due to Cheyne-strokes respiration (abnormal breathing pattern, a progression of increasingly deep breaths followed by shortness of breath).
  • Thyroid: Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can also cause insomnia due to overstimulation of nervous system, night sweats and feeling cold.
  • Musculoskeletal disorder: Arthritis patients, people with fibromyalgia (a condition characterized by painful ligaments and tendons) also suffer from insomnia due to the pain associated with the disorder.
  • Asthma: Nocturnal asthma (night-time asthma) patients wake up coughing and wheezing in the middle of the night due to the shortness of the breath. 75% of asthma patients have reported they suffer from insomnia as the symptoms become more severe during the night time.

Neurological Disorder

  • Parkinson’s disease: Insomnia is most common in Parkinson’s disease. Nigh time arousals caused due to tremors and movement caused by the disorder. Drugs used for treating Parkinson’s disease can also disrupt sleep as they may develop severe nightmares.
  • Epilepsy: According to reports, 40 to 51 percent of people with epilepsy have insomnia. One in four people with epilepsy has seizures which mainly occur at night which leads to insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Scientists still haven’t found the reason for sleep disturbance in Alzheimer’s disease but it is one of the noticeable symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

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Mental Health Disorder

  • Depression: 90% of people with severe depression experience insomnia. Insomnia causes occur due to psychological struggles and mood swings. In chronic low-grade depression (dysthymia), insomnia or sleepiness is a major symptom.
  • Anxiety: Most adults who have anxiety problems face trouble in sleeping. Anxiety happens due to many reasons such as feeling overburdened with responsibilities, thinking about a past event, excessive worrying about future and feeling tensed or nervous. These factors lead to insomnia.
  • Schizophrenia: It is commonly reported that patients who have schizophrenia often suffer from sleep disturbances. The patients rarely get a normal amount of sleep.
  • Again, bipolar disorder, phobias, and panic attacks are also leading causes of insomnia.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle and food habits
  • Insomnia symptoms can also be triggered by an unhealthy lifestyle and food habits. If you stay up late or if you are a shift worker you tend to confuse the body’s clock and this can result in sleeping disorder.
  • Consumption of alcohol may make you fall asleep initially but later on, it can disrupt the sleeping patterns.
  • Caffeine in moderation is fine but over consumption can cause insomnia; caffeine can stay in our body system for as long as 8 hours, so the effects are long-lasting.
  • Nicotine is harmful to health and it also causes insomnia. Smoking tobacco and cigarettes close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Heavy meals before bedtime can create uneasiness in the body and can make it hard for your body to relax and settle. Taking light meals is preferable for a sound sleep during bedtime.

Insomnia symptoms

Sleep is a very essential factor for your health. Adequate sleep helps to increase the efficiency level of the brain. If your body doesn’t get the required amount of sound sleep, you may feel tired and may have difficulty to think clearly. Sleep also helps to heal or repair heart and blood vessels. Therefore, it is important to practice a healthy lifestyle and food habits to minimize the symptoms of insomnia.

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