Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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“Shelly is a 14-year-old girl who experiences problems of disturbed sleep cycle just like her grandmother. Although her parents realize that the Insomnia disorder in her grandma is due to ageing and other health problems, however, they are very uncomfortable detecting the same disorder in their daughter. Only after they visit an expert, do they realize that Insomnia is an age-independent disorder. It may be caused in children, teens, adults, or the elderly. Dr Mehta informs them how changes in hormones, patterns of menstrual cycles, and other such adolescent changes are often the cause of Insomnia and related problems in the teens.”

According to research, chronic insomnia is highly prevalent and is present in approximately 30% of the population. Insomnia affects body control systems causing accidents, and work productivity making people prone to higher rates of absenteeism and increasing the total health expenditure to about 60% more than that of normal people. This article here gives an insight into the Insomnia causes, symptoms, and treatments.

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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia may be defined as a sleep disorder in which one has trouble falling or staying asleep.

It is accompanied by daytime troubles pertaining to this lack of sleep. Due to its chronicity, insomnia is associated with substantial impairments in an individual’s quality of life reporting decreased quality of life on virtually all dimensions of the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey of the Medical Outcomes Study (SF-36), which assesses 8 domains: physical functioning; role limitation due to physical health problems (role physical); bodily pain; general health perceptions; vitality; social functioning; role limitations due to emotional health problems (role emotional); mental health. Thus, it is essential to know the Insomnia causes and symptoms to get the necessary treatment. 

Types of Insomnia? 

Classification of Insomnia is done not merely under a single category but in multiple categories. Doctors take into consideration a few aspects to determine the kind an Insomnia an individual is facing, like whether –

  1. A person has a problem falling asleep (Onset Insomnia)
  2. staying asleep (Maintenance Insomnia) or
  3. Get restorative sleep.

A few other eminent categorizations are as follows

  1. Based on Duration.
  2. Acute/Transient Insomnia: Short-lived sleep inadequacies amount to this disorder. About 15-20% of the individuals are prone to this disorder. It is caused due to stress or trauma.
  3. Chronic Insomnia: When a person experiences sleep-related problems at least 3 times a week for about 3 or more months or over years. Estimates are that about 10% of all individuals have this kind of sleep disorder.
  4. Based on Cause. (Not included in the classifications anymore after the publication of the 3rd edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders)
  5. Primary Insomnia: Sleep-related problems which arise on their own.
  6. Secondary Insomnia: Sleep issues caused due to some other pursuing health problem in an individual.
  7. Based on Severity.
  8. Mild: When the lack of sleep causes tiredness.
  9. Moderate: When insomnia begins to lessen the efficiency of the day-to-day functioning of an individual.  
  10. Severe: When sleeplessness affects every aspect of an individual’s life and retards his growth and development.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia?

Apart from the hitch of disrupted night-time sleep, all kinds of Insomnia show certain common symptoms such as-

  • Resisting sleep at one’s bedtime and inability to sleep without a caregiver’s help (for children and teens).
  • Daytime fatigue, sleepiness, headache, irritation, lack of concentration, anxiety, and other such mental hurdles.
  • Difficulty to socialize, work, study, or co-ordinate leads to accidents.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, and inability to perform other such physical tasks.
  • Behavioural issues like hyperactivity and aggressiveness.

What Causes Insomnia?

Here is an explicit list of such factors causing Insomnia-

How to prevent insomnia?

Insomnia is just another name for chit-chat with the demons during bedtime

–By Daniel Saint

No one is an Insomniac by choice. It is an unnecessary and undesired issue that arises due to a few wrong choices and unhealthy habits one acquires. Thus, the best method is to practice such routines that minimize the likelihood of one becoming an insomniac by accidental practices. Here is an exclusive list of the same preventive measures-

Regularity in sleeping habits

Try getting to bed and getting up at the same time every day, so that the body is accustomed to acting in a routine manner. Avoid delayed sleep schedules even on the weekends to ensure that body gets the right amount of comfort at the right time as per its requirement.

Exercise regularly

Good and proper regulation of the body is ensured by proper exercise. However, avoid any such strenuous physical activity at least 4 hours prior to going to bed.

Limit the naps

A number of people try to get their recovery sleep by way of naps. However, this is the wrong manner as it disturbs the routine sleep cycle and leads to Insomnia.

Avoid the intake of alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, or other such medicated drugs

Caffeine may last for up to 24 hours, so its effect on sleep is assured. It can not only delay sleep but also cause frequent awakenings. Alcohol, on the other hand, has a sedative effect before consumption which leads to restless night sleep. Thus, it is best suited to avoid them. Even the medications like decongestants or asthma inhalers that act as stimulants should be consulted by the doctor and taken at a time period that minimizes their impact on sleep patterns.

Get a comfortable sleep environment

It is important to get a peaceful and soothing environment to sleep appropriately. Thus, ensure a comfortable temperature, lightning, and other requirements like soothing music that help one get a good sleep.

Limit activities in bed

The bed should be used for sleeping and sex. Avoid any other such activities in bed that disrupt sleep patterns. Avoid planning, thinking, calling, watching television, or working while lying in the bed as they may induce restlessness and lack of sleep. Set aside a separate schedule for these tedious activities to avoid them during bedtime. 

Reduce stress and participate in cognitive therapies

Follow relaxation therapies and stress reduction methods to get a smooth sleep. Identify and practice the right cognitive therapy to avoid enhanced risks of Insomnia.

Do not eat or drink right before going to bed

Eating too heavy a meal right before bedtime can cause problems like heartburn. Drinking too much water may also disrupt sleep by causing the urgency to use the washroom at night. Thus, avoid eating or drinking right before sleep to prevent Insomnia and related problems.

How is insomnia treated?

Just like any other ailment, Insomnia is best treated by identifying the roots of the problem causing it and working on it to replace it with better ideas and thoughts. The best approach thus depends on the cause and type of Insomnia an individual experiences, but some of the most common treatment methods adopted are as follows

Counselling sessions with an expert

 to facilitate education about Insomnia disorder. Doctors use this opportunity to inform the patients about the probable causes of their disorder and warn them about any subsisting cause in their lifestyle that is causing the problem.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-1)

Experts consider this to be the preferred initial treatment for chronic insomnia. It is a brief, structured intervention that helps one identify behaviours worsening sleep problems and replace them with habits that promote sound sleep.

Prescription Medications

Though not the first choice for the treatment of chronic insomnia, doctors advise individuals to take sleeping pills now and then to overcome sleep problems in the short-term disorder.


It is the hormone produced in the body that promotes sleep, therefore some people take melatonin supplements to induce sleep. However, there has been no scientific proof that warranty its efficiency.


Insomnia has been found to be a universal problem impacting everyone. Since a lack of sleep can lead to a variety of problems, effective pharmacologic and behavioural interventions to treat insomnia at the right hour become crucial. So, the best solution for anyone with prolonged sleep-related problems is to see a doctor as soon as possible.


  1. What are the main causes of insomnia?

 Chronic health issues like cancer, anxiety about one’s life events, inability to forgo failures and nightmares, hormonal changes and disrupted and unhealthy routines can be attributed to being a few leading factors that induce Insomnia causes and symptoms. A more detailed study about the factors can be understood from the head of Causes of Insomnia in the article.

  • Can insomnia go away?

Acute or short-term Insomnia can definitely be cured using the various Insomnia treatment and prevention methods illustrated in the article by adapting to a good lifestyle.

Chronic Insomnia, on the other hand, though may not be eliminated in its entirety, but its effect can be minimized to the extent that it becomes redundant with just a few shortcomings here and there.

  • Is insomnia a mental illness?

Insomnia is a mental health issue characterized by a lack of sleep. It is rarely an isolated mental illness. It is more commonly identified to be a symptom of some other budding illness or health deficiency that calls for treatment.


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