What is Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms and Insomnia Treatment


What is Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms and Insomnia Treatment

If you frequently experience difficulty in falling asleep or can't take complete restful sleep, it is not normal. You have insomnia symptoms, which can be dangerous if avoided for long. This blog explains all you should know about what is insomnia, its symptoms, what causes insomnia and treatments. 

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is when your sleep pattern goes haywire. It could mean you need more sleep, having trouble falling or staying asleep, or your sleep quality could be better. Some people find it slightly bothersome, while others see it as a significant disruption. There are various reasons behind insomnia, unique to each person's experience.

Your body craves sleep for reasons that science is still piecing together. We do know that not getting enough sleep can lead to sleep deprivation, which usually leaves you feeling far from your best.

Types of Insomnia 

The most common types of insomnia are:

1. Primary Insomnia

Primary insomnia is when your sleep woes aren't tied to other health issues or concerns. It's a standalone problem.

2. Secondary Insomnia

Secondary insomnia arises from other health conditions such as asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn. It can also be triggered by pain, medications, or substance use like alcohol.

You might also come across some specific terms:

  • Sleep-onset Insomnia is all about struggling to initiate sleep, making it hard to doze off.
  • Sleep-maintenance Insomnia is staying asleep through the night or waking up too early.
  • Mixed Insomnia is quite taxing. Both falling asleep and staying asleep are challenging.
  • Paradoxical Insomnia tricks your perception, making you feel like you're sleeping far less than you are, creating a puzzling sense of sleep deprivation.

Insomnia Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, insomnia is not a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of problem. Try to identify the insomnia symptoms, as it would help you manage your condition better.  

  1. Insomniacs often struggle to initiate sleep, spending extended periods lying awake in bed.
  2. Individuals with insomnia may wake up multiple times during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep.
  3. Insomnia can lead to daytime drowsiness and fatigue, affecting concentration, mood, and overall cognitive function.
  4. Some individuals with insomnia may experience physical discomfort, muscle tension, or headaches.
  5. Insomnia can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as indigestion and acid reflux.
  6. It reduces immune function.
  7. Persistent emotional changes include increased irritability, sadness, or heightened anxiety.
  8. A lack of drive and persistent feelings of tiredness.
  9. Difficulty staying on task and making decisions.
  10. Impaired motor skills result in an increased risk of accidents or mistakes.
  11. Preoccupation with the inability to fall asleep leads to a vicious cycle of anxiety and sleeplessness.
  12. Dependence on substances to induce sleep.
  13. Experiencing headaches, often related to stress and muscle tension.
  14. Insomnia can impact social interactions, job performance, and educational pursuits, as the individual is consistently tired and unfocused.

Common Causes of Insomnia 

Now, let us come to the question of what causes insomnia. While it may be difficult to pinpoint just one reason, people may be unable to sleep due to various causes. Listed below are some of the most common causes of insomnia.

1. Family History (Genetics): Insomnia often appears to have a familial link, suggesting that certain sleep traits and conditions, including insomnia, may be inherited.

2. Brain Activity Differences: Some individuals with insomnia exhibit differences in brain activity or chemistry that can affect their ability to sleep. These variations still need to be fully explained.

3. Medical Conditions: Physical health can significantly impact sleep. Temporary illnesses like minor infections or injuries, as well as chronic conditions such as acid reflux or Parkinson's disease, can disrupt sleep. Conditions that affect your circadian rhythm, your body's internal sleep-wake clock, also play a role.

4. Mental Health Conditions: Approximately half of those with chronic insomnia also have another mental health condition, like anxiety or depression.

5. Life Changes: Both short-term changes like jet lag, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, and adapting to a new work schedule (especially shift work) and long-term changes like moving to a new residence can affect sleep patterns.

6. Habits and Routine: Your daily sleep habits, or sleep hygiene, can influence insomnia. Factors include napping, bedtime, caffeine consumption, and other behaviours.

7. Media technology: Using media technology before bedtime, particularly in young people, and screens after lights-out can disrupt sleep patterns.

8. Medications: Medications, such as corticosteroids, statins, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), antidepressants, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers), cholinesterase inhibitors, nonsedating H1 agonists, and even certain combinations of supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, may lead to or worsen insomnia.

Insomnia can stem from a wide range of physical and psychological factors like:

  1. Disruptions to the body's internal clock include jet lag, shift work changes, or changes in daily routines.
  2. Whether the room is too hot, cold, noisy, or the bed needs to be more comfortable.
  3. If caregiving responsibilities interfere with sleep.
  4. Inadequate physical activity
  5. Disturbing dreams or night terrors.
  6. Such as cocaine or ecstasy.

How to Cure Insomnia? 

You have various options when treating insomnia, including therapy, medications, supplements, and natural remedies. Let’s take a look at the best insomnia treatment.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-I): CBT is a recommended method for treating chronic insomnia in adults. CBT-I, a specialised form of CBT, offers techniques to tackle insomnia.

A therapist can suggest the following:

  • Stimulus control helps you avoid lying awake in bed and worrying about sleep.
  • Sleep restriction, which adjusts your time in bed to enhance sleep quality.
  • Bright light therapy uses light exposure to regulate sleep patterns.

2. Medications and Supplements: Your healthcare provider might prescribe medications like Lunesta, Ambien, or Halcion for insomnia. Moreover, over-the-counter sleep aids and supplements such as melatonin can also be considered. Melatonin, a natural hormone produced during the sleep cycle, might help you fall asleep faster. However, its long-term use safety is yet to be confirmed.

3. Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies: You can try natural sleep aids like warm milk, herbal tea, or valerian. Besides, acupuncture, a traditional Chinese practice, can also help ease insomnia symptoms.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Insomnia is a common sleep problem. We discussed how to cure insomnia using therapy, medication, and natural remedies. Always consult a healthcare professional before trying supplements or medications for insomnia, as they sometimes interact with other medicines and have potential side effects. 

Your health insurance policy can be vital in providing financial support for treatment, ensuring you can access the care you need without added financial stress.

>> Read More: What is Night Sweats: Know the Causes and Treatment

Disclaimer: The above-mentioned information is for reference purposes only. Refer to your policy documents for more information.

Q. How can I stop my insomnia?

You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, making your sleep area comfortable, avoiding caffeine before bed, and relaxing with techniques like deep breathing. If it keeps bothering you, consult a healthcare professional.

Q. What are the warning signs of insomnia?

Warning signs include having difficulty falling asleep, waking up often at night, waking up too early, feeling tired during the day, being easily annoyed, and having trouble concentrating.

Q. Who suffers from insomnia?

Insomnia can affect anyone. It's a common issue caused by stress, health problems, or lifestyle choices. Don't hesitate to talk to a healthcare pro if you think you have it.


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