Insomnia-Causes, Symptoms-Treatment

Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms &Treatment


Do you often find yourself lying in bed at night and instead of falling asleep, your mind becomes a battlefield of thoughts, tossing you from one side to the other? Minutes turn into hours, and as time passes, you dread how you will wake up the next day.


The result? Excessive sleepiness, lack of energy, increased irritability, problems with attention and concentration, and in the most severe cases, depression, anxiety, or panic attacks.


We all need sleep… let me rephrase that!

We all need quality sleep. Individuals who have sleep problems are more prone to developing psychiatric issues compared to those who sleep well. No surprises there. Furthermore, chronic insomnia can impact health by compromising the immune system.


Proper sleep compensation (REM sleep comprising approximately 25% to 75% slow-wave sleep) stabilizes the functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain that determine mood, motivation, and emotional stability throughout the day. Sleep is a central pillar on which mental and physical health rely.


Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Individuals with insomnia experience one or more of the following symptoms:


  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Frequent awakening during the night and difficulty returning to sleep
  • Early morning awakening
  • Feeling tired upon waking up


Additionally, insomnia manifests during wakefulness as:


  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased vigilance and performance
  • Muscle aches
  • Daytime and nighttime depression
  • Hyper-emotional state (feeling tense, worried, irritable, and depressed)



Causes of Insomnia


The causes of insomnia may not always be easy to identify, but there are several common reasons that generally contribute to sleep disturbances:


Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can interfere with obtaining restful sleep. For example, chronic pain and congestive heart failure can make falling asleep difficult. However, physical conditions are not the sole culprits when it comes to insomnia. Psychological and emotional aspects such as stress, anxiety, and depression can also throw you into a cycle of sleep problems.


Medications: The side effects of certain medications can also make falling asleep difficult. Antidepressants and stimulants can cause insomnia in some individuals. Medications for emphysema, high blood pressure, and allergies can sometimes lead to insomnia. It is also important to understand that people respond differently to medications. Even a medication that typically does not cause sleep disturbances can do so in some individuals.


Disruption of circadian rhythm: We all have a natural sleep-wake rhythm. For most people, their circadian rhythm involves sleeping at night and being awake during the day. When this rhythm becomes disrupted, it can lead to insomnia. Overnight shifts and traveling across time zones are two factors that can alter your circadian rhythm.


Environmental factors: Sometimes, our environment makes falling asleep difficult. Most people sleep best in a cool, dark, and quiet environment. When your bedroom doesn’t facilitate sleep, it can keep you awake or cause you to wake up multiple times during the night.


Many people experience temporary insomnia during certain periods of their lives. This type of insomnia usually results from everyday events, such as:


  • A stressful event
  • Emotional stress
  • Illness
  • Temporary pain, etc.


Analyzing the above causes, there are two main types of insomnia: primary and secondary.


Insomnia is considered primary when it is not caused by or associated with a medical condition, psychiatric problem, or medication. Secondary insomnia, on the other hand, is due to a medical condition, such as chronic pain, that interferes with sleep.


Considering that secondary insomnia is related to medical factors, which are somewhat beyond your control, I want to further discuss how you recognize primary insomnia, the sleep disorder that affects most people.


Primary Insomnia


Primary insomnia is the type of insomnia that cannot be attributed to a medical, psychiatric, or environmental cause. Below are the diagnostic criteria for primary insomnia as presented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


  • The primary symptom according to DSM-IV-TR is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep for at least one month.
  • The second criterion is that the sleep disturbance (or associated daytime fatigue) causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of daily life.
  • The third criterion is that the sleep disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of narcolepsy, breathing-related sleep disorders, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, or a parasomnia.
  • The fourth criterion is that the disturbance is not exclusively due to another mental disorder (e.g., major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, delirium).
  • Finally, the fifth criterion is that the disturbance is not attributable to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, drug abuse) or a general medical condition.



Insomnia and Anxiety


Most adults experience sleep problems because they feel worried, preoccupied, or nervous, and their “thoughts won’t let them rest.” Anxiety symptoms that can lead to insomnia include:


  • Tension
  • Being caught up in thoughts about past events
  • Excessive worry about future events
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
  • A general sense of being overwhelmed


It is not difficult to understand why these symptoms of general anxiety can lead to insomnia. Anxiety can be associated with initial insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) or maintenance insomnia (waking up during the night and being unable to return to sleep). In both cases, the stillness and inactivity of the night often bring about stressful thoughts or even fears that keep a person awake.


When this happens for several nights in a row (or for several months), you may start feeling anxious, scared, or panicked just at the thought of not being able to sleep. This is how anxiety and insomnia can feed into each other and become a cycle that should be interrupted through therapy.


Insomnia and Lifestyle


Insomnia can be triggered or perpetuated by faulty behaviors and sleep patterns.

Examples of actions and sleep habits that can lead to insomnia are:


  • Working from home in the evening. This can make relaxation difficult, agitate your mind, and make falling asleep challenging.
  • Taking short naps during the day. Brief naps can be helpful for some people, but for others, they can be traps for restful sleep at night.
  • Sometimes you sleep in later to make up for lost sleep. This can disrupt your body’s biological clock and make it difficult to fall asleep again the following night.
  • Working in shifts (which means sleeping at irregular hours).


Changing your daily behaviors can help you achieve good sleep and overcome insomnia. Here are some tips:


Try to establish a consistent sleep schedule, meaning you go to bed and wake up at the same time. Avoid taking short naps during the day, no matter how tired you may feel. Choose a sleep schedule that you can stick to on most evenings, as deviating from it can lead to more frustration.

Avoid using your phone, laptop, or tablet before bedtime.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol later in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can hinder your ability to fall asleep. Alcohol can cause nighttime awakenings and interfere with sleep quality.

Engage in regular exercise. However, try not to exercise too close to bedtime as it can stimulate you and make falling asleep difficult. Experts suggest avoiding exercise for at least three to four hours before going to bed.

Follow a routine to help you relax before bedtime. Read a book, listen to music, or take a bath.


Some cases of insomnia start with an acute episode but turn into a long-term problem. For example, let’s say a person has trouble sleeping for a night or two after receiving bad news. In this case, if the person starts adopting unhealthy sleep habits, such as waking up in the middle of the night or consuming alcohol before bed as a sleep aid, the insomnia may persist and become a chronic issue.


Once this happens, worries and thoughts like “I will never sleep again” become associated with bedtime, and each time the person cannot sleep, it reinforces this pattern.



How can you control insomnia?


The simple answer is not very encouraging. Insomnia is involuntary. It’s something that you can hardly control. If I were to ask you not to think about a pink giraffe, it’s probably the first thing that comes to your mind. If you try to stop an irritating thought, you’ll likely struggle, and it will keep coming back. If you forget someone’s name, the more you try to remember, the harder it becomes. In fact, it’s only when you stop thinking about it and do something else that it may randomly pop into your mind.


Sleep should be natural, effortless, and easy. Yet, for you, it’s not. Why? The more you try to sleep, the more you try to force it, the worse the problem becomes because for some subconscious reason, you don’t want to sleep.


To overcome this, some people try distraction techniques (e.g., counting from 1 to 100). Some attempt to avoid certain “triggers” to prevent insomnia from occurring (e.g., no caffeine or alcohol). However, unfortunately, none of these methods address the root cause in the first place, and thus, eventually, the insomnia will continue to resurface, and the anticipation of not being able to sleep will never go away.


The most effective way to completely and permanently treat insomnia is to resolve the cause that triggers it; if there is no cause, there can be no effect.


So, why are you suffering from insomnia? Maybe you know why; your mother, brother, or another family member experienced it in the past. Or perhaps you went through a depression or a stressful situation. But knowing this doesn’t make the problem disappear. Or maybe you can’t think of any reason. But that doesn’t mean there is no cause because for something to exist, it must have been created. It must come from somewhere.


Beneath all the triggers, there is a single root cause stored in the subconscious mind. It’s something you can’t think of. Something small, easily forgotten, easily overlooked. Often, it can be hard to believe that something so small could have caused so many problems.


It may take years for our issues, conditions, and symptoms to manifest as the effect of insomnia. Something that starts as a minor irritation worsens and worsens until it causes so much suffering that eventually, we seek help.


Among the various holistic or alternative therapies for insomnia, hypnosis or hypnotherapy is much more accessible today.


The idea that the symptoms of insomnia are somehow learned and become part of your regular behavior underlies the concept that hypnosis can help.


Hypnosis works directly with the subconscious mind, the part that controls emotional responses and automatic habits that can lead to poor sleep quality and insomnia. Through hypnosis or self-hypnosis, you can effortlessly be guided into a state of deep relaxation, where the subconscious mind can become open to positive suggestion, and you can access your natural capacity for sleep.

2 thoughts on “Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms &Treatment”

  1. Pingback: Suffering from Depression or Major depressive Disorder?

  2. Pingback: The Art & Science of Hypnosis: Unlocking Subconscious Power

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.