Insomnia Causes – Find Out What’s Keeping You Awake

Is It Insomnia

Are you having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? If you’re staying up late to study or work or are waking up at 2 a.m. worrying about a job presentation, that is not insomnia. It’s normal to feel a little worried about work, health or family in the short term, but if you continue to struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep, it might be time to talk to your doctor. Insomnia causes can be complicated, and it’s important to find out what’s keeping you awake so you can get treatment.


Insomnia can be caused by several different things, including an overactive brain, poor sleep habits, stress, anxiety and mental illness. People with a troubled mental state are more likely to have insomnia, especially those with depression or anxiety disorders like panic attacks and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). People who suffer from chronic pain, particularly from a condition such as arthritis or back problems, often find it hard to fall and stay asleep. People who have to go to the bathroom frequently during the night or are dealing with a medical condition like a gastrointestinal disorder, heart disease, asthma, or diabetes can also have insomnia.

Predisposing Factors

There are predisposing factors that can make you more likely to have insomnia, including anxiety, being female (insomnia is more common in women than men) and having an unconventional work schedule or working shifts.

Precipitating Factors

There are also precipitating factors, which are new stresses that trigger insomnia, such as a big project at work, financial worries, illness or travel. Precipitating factors can also include a new medication or treatment for a psychiatric or physical illness.

Perpetuating Factors

Then there are the perpetuating factors, which make your insomnia worse and last longer. These include an irregular bedtime schedule, a poor bedroom environment, stimulating activities before bed and using your bed for watching TV, working or eating. You can also become more prone to insomnia as you age, due to changes in your body, such as increased aches and pains from a health problem or a need to go to the bathroom more frequently. Conditions like sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and senile dementia can also cause insomnia.


Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about your daytime and nighttime habits and how you’ve been feeling. He or she might recommend a sleep diary or other tests at a sleep center to help determine the cause of your insomnia. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe sleeping pills for a brief period of time if he or she thinks it’s necessary. But you should try to treat the underlying cause or conditions of your insomnia first, so you don’t need these medications in the long run. Your doctor may also recommend behavioral therapy to change your daily habits or use cognitive-behavioral therapies to reduce your anxiety and worry, which can interfere with sleep. You can also learn to use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to promote sleep.