Insomnia Causes, Symptoms, About Aging, Causes of Insomnia in the Elderly, Causes of Insomnia During Pregnancy, Risk Factors, Complications, & Prevention
We Level Up Treatment Fl Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals to help you cope. In addition, we work as an integrated team providing information about insomnia causes and other aspects of treatment.
By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: April 25, 2023
Insomnia Causes Overview
Common causes of insomnia include stress, an irregular sleep schedule, poor sleeping habits, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, physical illnesses and pain, medications, neurological problems, and specific sleep disorders. For many people, a combination of these causes can start and aggravate sleeplessness.
A common sleep problem called insomnia can make it difficult to get asleep, stay asleep, or lead you to wake up early and have trouble falling back asleep. As a result, you may still feel tired when you wake up. Your quality of life, health, energy level, and mood can all be negatively impacted by insomnia.
Individual needs for sleep vary, but most individuals need seven to eight hours per night.
Adults frequently encounter brief (acute) sleeplessness that lasts a few days or weeks. Typically, stress or a traumatic incident is the cause. However, some persons experience persistent long-term insomnia that lasts for a month or longer. The main issue can be insomnia, or it might be brought on by other illnesses or drugs.
Insomnia symptoms may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night.
- Waking up during the night.
- Waking up too early.
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep.
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness.
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety.
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering.
- Increased errors or accidents.
- Ongoing worries about sleep.
Is all Insomnia the Same?
Individuals may have various experiences with the disease; not all insomnia is the same. . Short-term insomnia happens only briefly, while chronic insomnia lasts three months or more. For some people, the main issue is getting to sleep (sleep onset), but for others, the issue is maintaining sleep (sleep maintenance).Based on its root cause, degree, and underlying medical issues, insomnia can have a wide range of effects on a person.
The main issue can be insomnia, or it might be a symptom of other diseases. Chronic insomnia is frequently brought on by stress, traumatic experiences, or sleep-disturbing habits. Insomnia can be cured by attending to the underlying cause, but it occasionally persists for years.
Common causes of chronic insomnia include:
- Stress: Your mind may remain active at night due to worries about your job, health, finances, or family, making it difficult to fall asleep. Insomnia can also be brought on by traumatic or stressful life events like divorce, losing your job, losing a loved one to death or disease.
- Travel or work schedule: Your circadian rhythms serve as an internal clock, controlling your body’s temperature, metabolism, and sleep-wake cycle. Insomnia can result from a disruption of your body’s circadian rhythms. Jet lag from crossing time zones, working a late or early job, or often switching shifts are some of the causes.
- Poor sleep habits: An erratic bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities right before bed, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, and using 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, smartphones, or other devices right before bed.
- Overeating late in the evening: It’s ok to have a small snack before bed, but eating too much could make it uncomfortable for you to lay down. Heartburn, or the reflux of acid and food into the esophagus after eating, is another common condition that might keep you awake.
Chronic sleeplessness may also be linked to specific diseases or medications. Sleep quality may be improved by treating the underlying medical issue, although insomnia may still exist.
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- Mental health disorders: Your sleep may be disturbed by anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. An early awakening could indicate depression. Along with other mental health conditions, insomnia is frequently present.
- Medications: Numerous prescription drugs, including some antidepressants and treatments for asthma or high blood pressure, can disrupt sleep. Numerous over-the-counter drugs, including those for pain, allergies, colds, and weight reduction, contain stimulants like caffeine that can keep you awake.
- Medical conditions: Chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart illness, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease are a few disorders that have been linked to sleeplessness.
- Sleep-related disorders: Your breathing stops periodically during the course of the night if you have sleep apnea, which disrupts your sleep. Your legs may experience uncomfortable sensations and an almost insatiable want to move as a result of restless legs syndrome, which may keep you from falling asleep.
- Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: Stimulants include caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, cola, and others. 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 present in tobacco products. Alcohol may aid in your ability to fall asleep, but it prevents deeper sleep and frequently results in nighttime awakenings.
Primary Insomnia Statistics
Approximately 30% to 40% of adults in the United States report insomnia symptoms at some point in a given year. Short-term insomnia has an estimated prevalence of 9.5% in the United States, but about 1 in 5 short-term insomnia transitions to chronic insomnia, which can persist for years.
Chronic insomnia is highly prevalent and affects approximately 30% of the general population.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, with 30% of adults experiencing short-term insomnia. About 10% of people have long-lasting insomnia.
Insomnia symptoms occur in 33% to 50% of the adult population, while Chronic Insomnia disorder associated with distress or impairment is estimated at 10% to 15%.
What is the Primary Cause of Insomnia?
Comorbid medical disorders, psychiatric disorders, and working night or rotating shifts represent significant insomnia risks. It is important to recognize that these factors do not independently cause insomnia; instead, they are precipitants in individuals predisposed to this disorder. Chronic illnesses are a significant risk for insomnia. It is estimated that most people with insomnia (approximately 75%–90%) have an increased risk for comorbid medical disorders, such as conditions causing hypoxemia and dyspnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pain conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases. 
Primary insomnia is most often tied to the following:
- Stress-related to significant life events, like a job loss or change, the death of a loved one, divorce, or moving.
- Things around you, like noise, light, or temperature
- Changes to your sleep schedule, like jet lag, a new shift at work, or bad habits you picked up when you had other sleep problems
- Your genes. Research has found that a tendency for insomnia may run in families.
Secondary causes of insomnia include:
- Psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety
- Medications for colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma.
- Pain or discomfort at night
- Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol abuse, as well as substance abuse.
- Hyperthyroidism and other endocrine problems
- Other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease and different types of dementia
- PMS and menopause
Insomnia and Aging
With aging, insomnia becomes more prevalent. As you get older, you may experience the following:
- Changes in sleep patterns: As you become older, sleep often becomes less restful, making it more likely that noise or other environmental changes will wake you up. Your internal clock often advances with age, causing you to fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier. However, in general, elderly individuals still require the same amount of sleep as younger people.
- Changes in activity: You might engage in less exercise or socializing. Lack of activity can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Additionally, taking daily naps is more likely if you are less active, which can disrupt your ability to sleep at night.
- Changes in health: Sleep disturbances can result from chronic pain brought on by illnesses like arthritis or back discomfort, as well as from melancholy or worry. Sleep can be disturbed by conditions like prostate or bladder problems that make it more need to urinate during the night. As people get older, they are more familiar with sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.
- More medications: Older adults tend to use prescription pharmaceuticals more frequently than younger ones, which raises the risk of sleeplessness brought on by prescriptions.
Insomnia and Mental Health Disorders
Anxiety, sadness, and bipolar disorder are among the mental health diseases that frequently result in severe sleeping issues. It is estimated that 40% of insomnia have a mental health disorder. These illnesses might cause mental hyperarousal and pervasive unpleasant thoughts that keep you awake at night. In addition, research show that sleeplessness can intensify the symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, raising the risk of suicide in those who are depressed.
Insomnia, Physical Illness, and Pain
Almost any painful condition makes it difficult to lie comfortably in bed, which might interfere with sleep. When trying to sleep, dwelling on discomfort might make things worse, leading to stress and sleep issues. If you suffer from pain while lying in bed, picking the best mattress for your needs, like beds with good pressure relief and ease of troublesome pain points, is essential.
Type II diabetes-related health issues can contribute to the root cause of sleeplessness. For instance, peripheral neuropathy pain, increased thirst and urination, and abrupt blood sugar swings can all disrupt sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), depression, and other medical conditions that are known to disrupt sleep are also associated with diabetes. Other medical conditions, such as those that impact the nervous or respiratory systems, may also make it difficult to sleep, which can lead to either temporary or persistent insomnia.
What Are Causes of Insomnia in the Elderly?
Insomnia affects 30 to 80% of elderly adults, who frequently have trouble staying asleep. Insomnia in the elderly can be brought on by the same factors that cause it in younger people: stress, physical diseases, mental health issues, and bad sleep patterns. However, due to higher rates of chronic illnesses, social isolation, and increasing usage of numerous prescription medications that may interfere with sleep, older adults are frequently more vulnerable to these factors.
According to research, adults over 60 had less effective sleep. They don’t spend as much time in REM and deep sleep, which makes it simpler to wake them up . Particularly for older persons in managed care settings, decreased daylight exposure and diminished environmental cues for sleep and wakefulness might disrupt circadian rhythm.
What Are the Causes of Insomnia During Pregnancy?
Multiple factors can cause insomnia during pregnancy:
- Discomfort: Positioning and comfort in bed can be impacted by weight gain and alterations in body composition.
- Disrupted Breathing: The lungs are compressed by the uterus’ growth, which causes breathing issues while you’re trying to sleep. Hormonal fluctuations can make it more likely that you’ll snore and experience central sleep apnea, which causes momentary breathlessness.
- Reflux: Disruptive gastroesophageal reflux might be brought on by slower digestion in the evening.
- Nocturia: More frequent urination may necessitate getting out of bed to use the restroom.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: Although the precise etiology of RLS is unknown, pregnant women are more likely to develop the condition, even if they had never previously experienced any symptoms.
More than half of pregnant women report sleeping issues that are consistent with insomnia, according to studies. Pregnant women generally sleep more hours overall during the first trimester, but the quality of their sleep declines. After the first trimester, total sleep time falls, with the third trimester seeing the worst sleep issues.
Everybody occasionally has a difficult time getting to sleep. But if any of the following apply to you:
- You are female. Changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and during menopause could be a factor. Night sweats and hot flashes are common menopause sleep disturbances. Pregnancy is also associated with 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 can interfere with your sleep.
- There is a lot of pressure on you. Events and situations that are stressful can lead to brief sleeplessness. Chronic insomnia can develop as a result of considerable or persistent stress.
- You don’t follow a set timetable. Your sleep-wake cycle may be disturbed by, for instance, working different shifts or traveling.
Do I Have Insomnia?
Welcome to the Insomnia Test, also known as the “Do I Have Insomnia Quiz”! If you’ve been questioning whether your sleep difficulties could be indicative of insomnia, this quiz aims to offer you some insights. However, it’s important to understand that this test is not a substitute for a medical diagnosis.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep. This insomnia quiz is designed to assess common symptoms associated with insomnia, providing you with a preliminary understanding of your sleep patterns. Remember, this test is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a definitive evaluation. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. Let’s begin the quiz and explore whether the symptoms you’re experiencing align with those commonly associated with insomnia.
*By taking this free quiz, you may obtain your results online and in your email box. You’ll have the opportunity to opt-in to learn more about your symptoms, talk to a mental health consultant and join our newsletter. Rest assured your information is private and confidential. Results, consultations and assessment are provided without any cost to you and without any obligation. If you do not wish to provide your contact information, you may omit it during your quiz. Thank you for opting in and participating. To you best of health.
Most Popular Insomnia Causes FAQs
What causes Insomnia?
If you are wondering, “what are the causes for insomnia?”, “what can cause insomnia?”, or “what is the cause of insomnia?”, the answer is on a general level, it is thought that insomnia is brought on by a hyperarousal condition that interferes with going to sleep or remaining asleep.
What are the causes of Insomnia in females?
If you are wondering, “what causes insomnia in females?”, a contributing factor can be changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle and during menopause. Hot flashes and night sweats are typical menopause sleep problems. Additionally, sleeplessness is linked to pregnancy.
Can Melatonin cause Insomnia?
If you consume too much melatonin, you may experience rebound insomnia, which might make the supplement ineffective or, worse, make your current sleep problems worse. To maintain your regular sleep cycle, melatonin can be taken in very small dosages.
Does Zoloft cause Insomnia?
If you are wondering, “can zoloft cause insomnia?”, the answer is while Zoloft may be useful in treating depression, anxiety, and undesirable thoughts, it can also make you sleepless. Until your body adjusts to taking Zoloft, you may suffer sleeplessness symptoms for the first few days, weeks, or months.
Can Anxiety cause Insomnia?
It is generally known that anxiety disorders frequently feature insomnia and other severe sleep disturbances because people’s worries interfere with their ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Can Depression cause Insomnia?
If you have been given a depression diagnosis, you may struggle to fall or stay asleep. There’s a rationale behind that. Lack of sleep is definitely associated with depression. Insomnia, or the difficulty to get to sleep and stay asleep, is in fact one of the typical symptoms of depression.
Does Lexapro cause Insomnia?
If you are wondering, “can lexapro cause insomnia?”, the answer is there are a number of adverse effects that you could encounter when taking Lexapro. Unfortunately, sleeplessness and exhaustion are fairly prevalent. Adults with major depressive disorder report experiencing insomnia and other side effects about 5% more frequently (or more frequently) than those taking a placebo, according to the FDA.
As important to your health as a balanced diet and regular exercise is sleep. Whatever the cause, insomnia can have a negative impact on both your emotional and physical health. In addition, people with insomnia report a lower quality of life than people sleeping well.
Complications of insomnia may include:
- Lower performance on the job.
- Accident risk and slowed reaction time while driving.
- Illnesses of the mind, such as substance misuse, anxiety disorders, or depression.
- Increased likelihood and severity of chronic diseases or conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Good sleep habits can help prevent insomnia and promote sound sleep:
- Maintain a regular bedtime and wakeup time every day, even on the weekends.
- Stay active — Regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep.
- Check your medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
- Avoid or limit naps.
- Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don’t use nicotine.
- Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep and only use it for sex or rest.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to soft music.
We Level Up Treatment Fl Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals to help you cope. In addition, we work as an integrated team providing information about insomnia causes and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and answer any of your questions.
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How to Improve Mental Health? 8 Steps & Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Wellbeing Video
8 Steps for Mental Wellbeing & How To Improve Mental Health In The Workplace
- Staying Positive
- Practicing Gratitude
- Taking Care of Your Physical Health
- Connecting With Others
- Developing a Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
- Developing Coping Skills
- Relaxation Techniques
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