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Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Types, and Diagnosis

Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Types, and Diagnosis

Max Lab

Dec 06, 2022

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can affect anyone, but it's most common among older people. Here are some signs and symptoms of insomnia, plus treatment options and tips for managing it.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, anxiety, depression, medications, and medical conditions. Insomnia can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).

Causes of Insomnia

There are many possible causes of insomnia, and it can be difficult to determine the exact cause without professional help. However, some of the most common causes of insomnia include stress, anxiety, depression, medications, medical conditions, and poor sleep habits.

  • Stress is a common cause of insomnia. Whether it’s work-related stress, family stress, or stress from daily life, it can all contribute to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. 
  • Anxiety and depression are also common causes of insomnia. If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, it can be hard to relax enough to fall asleep. Additionally,
  • Certain medications can interfere with sleep or cause insomnia as a side effect. Some medical conditions can also cause insomnia, such as restless legs syndrome or chronic pain. 
  • Poor sleep habits can lead to insomnia. This includes things like working on a computer or phone right up until bedtime, consuming caffeine late in the day, and exercising too close to bedtime.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. People with insomnia often feel tired during the day and may have trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks.

The symptoms of insomnia can vary depending on the type of insomnia you have. Acute and chronic insomnia both share some common symptoms, such as:

  • Trouble falling asleep at night
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Feeling tired during the day

However, there are some key differences between the two types of insomnia when it comes to symptoms. For example, people with acute insomnia may also experience:

  •  Anxiety about sleeping
  •  Stress about work, school, or other responsibilities

Types of Insomnia

There are three primary types of insomnia: Transient, Acute, and Chronic. 

  • Transient insomnia is the most common form of insomnia. It lasts for less than a week and is often caused by a stressful event, such as traveling or taking an exam. 
  • Acute insomnia lasts for one to three weeks and can be caused by stress, medications, or medical conditions. 
  • Chronic insomnia lasts for more than three weeks and can be caused by chronic stress, medications, or medical conditions.

Why do People Suffer from Insomnia?

There are many reasons why people suffer from insomnia. The most common reason is stress. When we are under stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol makes us feel alert and awake. It also causes our heart rate to increase and our blood pressure to rise. This can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Other medical conditions can also cause insomnia. These include depression, anxiety, and pain. Menopause can also disrupt sleep patterns due to changes in hormone levels. Some medications can also interfere with sleep, as can caffeine and alcohol use.

Most people suffering from insomnia will have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. They may wake up frequently or early in the morning and feel exhausted during the day. Insomnia can lead to other problems such as moodiness, irritability, anxiety, and depression. It can also negatively affect work performance, school grades, and social interactions.

How do you Diagnose Someone with Insomnia?

If you think you might have insomnia, see your doctor. They will ask you about your sleep habits and how you’re feeling. They may also give you a physical exam and ask questions about your health and family history.

Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist. This is a doctor who treats people with sleep problems. A sleep study may be done to rule out other sleep disorders.

During a sleep study, you stay overnight in a sleep lab. Sensors are attached to your head and body to measure your brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and muscle activity as you sleep. The data from the sensors is used to diagnose your sleep disorder.

Treatment for Insomnia

There are many different types of insomnia, each with its own set of causes, symptoms, and treatments. The most common type of insomnia is acute (short-term) insomnia, which can be caused by stress, jet lag, or other factors. Acute insomnia usually goes away on its own and doesn’t require treatment.

If you have chronic (long-term) insomnia, it may be caused by a medical condition, such as depression or anxiety. It can also be caused by medications you’re taking for other conditions. Treatment for chronic insomnia typically involves making lifestyle changes and using behavioral therapy techniques. Medications may also be used to help you sleep better.


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