Insomnia: Know Everything for a Better Night's Sleep


A common sleep issue known as insomnia can make it difficult to get asleep, and remain sleeping, or lead you to wake up too early and have trouble falling back asleep. You might feel exhausted when you wake up. Along with affecting your energy level and emotions, insomnia may also have a detrimental influence on your health, work productivity, and quality of life.

Although everyone has different sleeping demands, most people require seven to eight hours each night.

Most people ultimately experience short-term (acute) insomnia, which can last for a few days or even a few weeks. The reason is frequent stress or a traumatic event.

However, some persons experience persistent long-term insomnia that lasts for a month or more. It could also be a side effect of another medical condition or drug, or it might be the main issue.

You are not required to endure restless nights. Frequently, even little alterations to regular routines may be really helpful.


Insomnia may be the primary problem or it may be a sign of another illness.

The main issue with chronic insomnia can be sleeplessness, or it might be a symptom of other illnesses.

Chronic insomnia often results from stress, traumatic events, or sleep-inducing behaviors. Even though it occasionally lasts for years, insomnia can be treated by addressing its underlying cause.

There are several causes of chronic insomnia, including:

Stress. Your mind may remain active at night due to worries about your family, job, health, money, or other factors, making it difficult to fall asleep. Traumatic or stressful life events like divorce, losing your job, or losing a loved one to illness or death can also cause insomnia.

Travel or professional commitments. Your circadian rhythms function as a body clock, directing such aspects as your metabolism, sleep-wake cycle, and body temperature. A disturbance of your body's circadian rhythms might cause insomnia. Some of the causes include jet lag from changing time zones, working a late or early shift, or often changing shifts.

Bad sleeping habits. An erratic bedtime routine, naps, stimulating activities right before bed, an unpleasant sleeping environment, and utilising your bed for work, eating, or watching TV are all examples of poor sleep habits. Your sleep cycle might be disrupted by using computers, TVs, video games, cellphones, or other devices just before bed.

Eating excessively late at night. A modest snack is okay before bed, but if you eat too much, you could feel physically uneasy when you lie down. Also common are heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. after eating, which may keep you awake. 

In addition to diseases and drug use, persistent insomnia may also be caused by other reasons. Insomnia may remain present even after the underlying medical condition has been addressed, which might result in better sleep.

Other typical reasons for insomnia include:

Mental health conditions. Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, may keep you up at night. An early awakening could indicate sadness. Insomnia often coexists with other mental health disorders.

Medications. Numerous prescription medicines, including certain antidepressants and treatments for asthma or high blood pressure, can disrupt sleep. Numerous over-the-counter drugs, including various pain relievers, allergy and cold remedies, and weight-loss medicines, include stimulants like caffeine.

Other Medical conditions. A few conditions that have been linked to insomnia include chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an overactive thyroid, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

Problems relating to sleep. Your breathing stops periodically over the course of the night if you have sleep apnea, which disrupts your sleep. Your legs may experience uncomfortable feelings and an almost insatiable want to move as a result of restless legs syndrome, which may keep you from falling asleep.

Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Caffeinated drinks including coffee, tea, cola, and others are stimulants. If you consume them in the late afternoon or evening, you can have trouble going to sleep at night. Another stimulant that might disrupt sleep is nicotine, which is included in tobacco products. While it may aid in falling asleep, alcohol hinders deeper stages of sleep and

frequently results in nighttime awakenings.

Ageing and insomnia

With ageing, insomnia becomes more prevalent. As you become older, you could experience:

Modifications to sleep habits. As you become older, sleep frequently becomes less peaceful, making it more likely that noise or other environmental disturbances may wake you up. Your internal clock tends to advance as you age, causing you to go to bed and get up earlier. However, in general, elderly individuals still require the same amount of sleep as younger ones.

Alterations in activity. You could engage in less exercise or socialising. Sleeping well might be hampered by a lack of exercise. Additionally, if you are not as active, you may be more prone to take a nap. 

Alterations to health. Sleep disturbances can result from chronic pain brought on by illnesses like arthritis or back issues, as well as from melancholy or worry. Sleep can be disturbed by conditions like prostate or bladder issues that make it more necessary to pee during the night. With ageing, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are increasingly prevalent.

Additional medicines. Older persons are more likely to use prescription drugs than younger adults, which increases the risk of prescription drug-induced insomnia.

Teenage and Children's insomnia

Sleep problems can also affect children and teenagers. However, because their internal clocks are more advanced, some children and teenagers just struggle to go to sleep or reject a regular bedtime. They want longer morning naps and later bedtimes.

How to check if you have Insomnia?

To find out the source of your sleep problem and how to manage it, consult your doctor if insomnia makes it difficult for you to function throughout the day. Your doctor can recommend you to a sleep clinic for specialised testing if they suspect you may have a sleep condition.

Risk Factors

Everyone occasionally has trouble falling asleep. However, if you have a history of insomnia, the following factors can lead to higher risk:

You are a female. Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and during menopause might be a factor. Night sweats and hot flashes are common menopausal sleep disturbances. Another typical symptom of pregnancy is insomnia.

You are older than 60. Age-related changes in health and sleep habits contribute to an increase in insomnia.

You suffer from a physical or mental health issue. Numerous conditions that affect your mental or physical health might interfere with your sleep.

There is a lot of pressure on you. Events and situations that are stressful might lead to brief sleeplessness. Chronic insomnia can also result from ongoing or severe stress.

You do not follow a set timetable. Changing shifts at work or travelling, for instance, might cause disruption to your slumber-wake pattern.


Some signs of insomnia include:

  • Difficulty sleeping at night
  • Having a nighttime awakening
  • Too early of an awakening
  • Having trouble recovering after a night's sleep
  • Daytime drowsiness or fatigue
  • Anger, sadness, or irritability
  • Inability to concentrate, pay attention or recall
  • More mistakes or mishaps
  • Persistent concerns about sleep


Sound sleep may be encouraged and insomnia can be avoided with good sleep habits:

  • Keep your wake-up and bedtime schedules the same every day, including on the weekends.
  • Keep moving; frequent movement encourages restful sleep.
  • Examine your prescriptions to discover if any of them could be causing your sleeplessness.
  • Limit or avoid napping.
  • Avoid or consume alcohol and nicotine in moderation.
  • Avoid consuming a lot of food or liquids right before bed.
  • Only use your bedroom for sleeping or having sex. Make it pleasant.
  • Establish a soothing nighttime routine that includes activities like a warm bath, reading, or listening to calm music.

Many people may get back to sleeping well by altering their sleeping patterns and taking care of any problems that may be contributing to their insomnia, such as stress, underlying medical disorders, or drugs. If these steps are unsuccessful, your doctor may advise cognitive behavioural therapy, medication, or a combination of the two to aid with sleep and relaxation.

For insomnia, try cognitive behavioural therapy

The first line of treatment for insomniacs is typically cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-I), which can help you manage or stop the unpleasant thoughts and behaviours that keep you awake. Usually, CBT-I is just as effective as or even better than sleep aids.

In the cognitive component of CBT-I, you learn to identify and modify thoughts that interfere with your ability to sleep. It can assist in managing or getting rid of negative thoughts. and sleep-related concerns. Getting rid of the cycle where you worry so much about sleep that you can't fall asleep may also be necessary.

The behavioural component of CBT-I aids in the development of healthy sleeping patterns and the avoidance of unhealthy ones. Among the strategies are, for instance:

Treatment to regulate stimuli. With this technique, you may get rid of the things that make it hard for you to go to sleep. For instance, you could receive coaching on how to establish a regular bedtime and wake-up times, stay away from naps, only use your bed for sleeping and having sex, leave your bedroom if you can not fall asleep within 20 minutes, and only come back when you are ready to do so.

Relaxation methods. Exercises for breathing and progressive muscular relaxation are methods to lessen the fear of going to sleep. You may learn to relax by using these strategies to modulate your breathing, heart rate, muscular tension, and mood.

Limitation of sleep. This therapy shortens the amount of time you spend in bed and discourages daytime naps, which results in partial sleep deprivation and increases your fatigue the next night. Your time in bed is gradually extended after your sleep quality has improved.

Passively keeping awake. This form of therapy for learned insomnia, also known as paradoxical intention, aims to lessen stress and anxiety about being able to fall asleep by going into bed and attempting to stay awake rather than expecting to do so.

Light treatment. You can utilise light to delay your awakening if you go to sleep too early and then wake up too early.

Internal timer. During seasons of the year when it is bright outdoors in the evenings, you may either go outside or utilise a lightbox. Consult your doctor for advice.

To help you form routines that promote restful sleep and daily alertness, your doctor can suggest additional lifestyle and sleep-related tactics.

Medications on prescription

You can use prescription sleeping drugs to aid in falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Most of the time, doctors advise against relying on prescription sleeping pills for more than a few weeks, but there are some drugs that are okay to take for a long time.

Examples comprise:

  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta) 
  • Ramelteon (Rozerem) 
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist)
  • Side effects of prescription sleeping drugs include daytime drowsiness and an increased risk of falling, among others.

Consult your doctor about these drugs and any other potential adverse effects as they may have addictive potential.

Prescription-free sleep aids

Antihistamines used in over-the-counter sleep aids can cause drowsiness, but they are not meant to be taken regularly. Before taking them, see your doctor since antihistamine side effects, which may be severe in older persons, include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, cognitive impairment, and problems urinating. 

Complications of Insomnia

Sleep is just as crucial to your health as a balanced diet and frequent exercise. Whatever the cause, insomnia may have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. When compared to those who are getting enough sleep, those who suffer from insomnia report a worse quality of life.

Insomnia's potential side effects include:

  • Decreased efficiency at work or in the classroom
  • A slower ability to respond when driving and a greater chance of accidents
  • Diseases of the mind, such as drug misuse, anxiety disorders, or sadness
  • Long-term illnesses or disorders like high blood pressure or heart disease are more likely to occur and get worse.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 15, 2023

Next review due: Mar 15, 2025

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