What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia can be a symptom of another problem. It can be caused by any of a number of factors, such as stress, anxiety, etc.
Vulnerability to Insomnia:
Some people seem more likely than others to experience insomnia during times of stress, just as some people might tend to have headaches or easily get upset stomachs.
Relationship problems, a chronically ill child or an unrewarding career may contribute to sleep problems.
Use of stimulants:
Caffeine near bedtime, even when it doesn't interfere with your falling asleep, can trigger awakenings later in the night. Nicotine is also a stimulant and smokers may take longer to fall asleep than non-smokers. You should be aware that the ingredients in many common drugs (including nonprescription drogs for weight loss, asthma and colds) can disrupt your sleep.
Use of alcohol:
You may think that having a glass of wine will help you sleep, but alcohol (while it may help you fall asleep quickly) is likely to make your sleep more broken throughout the night.
If you do shift work (work non-traditional hours, such as nights or rotating shifts) or maintain later hours on weekends than during the week, you are more likely to experience sleep problems.
You may think that a quiet lifestyle would be healthy, but people whose lifestyles are very quiet or restricted may find it difficult to sleep at night because of their inactivity during the day.
Passing traffic, airplanes, television and other noises can disturb your sleep even when they don't cause you to wake up.
Light comes through your eyelids even when your eyes are closed.
These factors should be considered if you find yourself feeling tired even though you thought you slept soundly all night.
Insomnia - especially with awakenings earlier than desired - is one of the most common symptoms of depression. If you suffer from a psychiatric disorder, you may sleep poorly. Treatment of the underlying disorder, often including both medication and psychotherapy, can help improve your sleep.
Certain disorders can cause repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. This can wake a sleeper dozens or even hundreds of times a night. Pauses can be as short as 10 seconds and therefore may not be remembered in the morning. These are sufficient, however, to produce restless sleep. Severely disrupted breathing during sleep (Sleep Apnea) may affect people who breathe normally while they are awake.
Periodic leg movements:
Brief muscle contractions can cause leg jerks that last a second or two and occur roughly every 30 seconds (often for an hour or longer) several times a night. These movements can cause hundreds of brief interruptions of sleep each night, resulting in restless sleep.
Back-up of stomach contents or acid into the esophagus can awaken a person several times a night.