What Causes Sleeplessness

Sleep is essential for physical health and mental well-being. Unfortunately, it can be negatively impacted by a number of variables, both within and outside of your control. One common contributor to sleeplessness or insomnia is heightened stress levels. Sleeplessness can also occur as the byproduct of certain lifestyle choices, or as the result of a medical or psychological condition or sleep disorder. Insomnia may also be idiopathic — or, not caused by prior existing medical conditions. Finding what causes sleeplessness for you is the first step in finding ways to combat it.

Effects of stress and habits on sleep

Sleeplessness can impact your ability to perform daily tasks and, over time, can have serious health repercussions. Identifying what causes sleeplessness in your life can help you manage it.

Anxiety and stress are common culprits of disrupted and non-restorative sleep. Life stressors, such as jobs or relationships, can add additional stress and disrupt your sleep cycles.[1] Putting in place a sleep routine that involves relaxing and winding down before bed can help you relieve anxiety before sleeping.[2] This routine can include a calm and soothing bath, restful wind-down yoga, or CBD sleep products.

The consumption of certain stimulants and medications can also cause trouble sleeping. Nicotine and caffeinated beverages, like tea or coffee, are stimulants that increase the difficulty of falling asleep, especially when taken later in the day. Alcohol also negatively impacts the quality of your sleep; although it makes it easier to fall asleep, it increases the chances of waking during the night. Additionally, the use of certain medications, such as those used to treat asthma or depression, can interfere and disrupt sleep-wake cycles.[3]

Sleep disorders and secondary conditions

In many cases, insomnia is the result of other medical conditions that include other sleep disorders. For instance, insomnia is often a side effect of sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. Another common cause of insomnia is chronic pain, which is why it is essential to find the best sleeping position for lower back pain and neck pain.

There are also several long-term medical conditions that have been known to cause sleep deficiency and disrupted sleep, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Many mental health problems often have a reciprocal relationship with insomnia. Many of them, such as depression or bipolar disorder, can both be what causes sleeplessness or be the result of it in a reinforcing cycle.


How can I fall asleep in five minutes?

There is no guaranteed method for how to fall asleep fast, but there are many tricks and techniques to help you find the best way to fall asleep for you. Many people find that guided visualizations, meditation, and breathing techniques are effective ways to help them relax and fall asleep quickly. For some people who are experiencing intense periods of stress, prescription sleeping pills can be a helpful, if temporary, sleep aid.[4]

How do you treat insomnia?

There are several effective treatments for insomnia. Insomnia treatment depends on whether you suffer from primary or secondary insomnia.[5] One of the most successful treatments for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-I). Cognitive behavioral therapy, unlike other treatments, helps to treat and address what causes insomnia, rather than just treating its symptoms. CBT-I is a great long-term treatment. But for those who are suffering from intense bouts of acute insomnia, medication can also help.

What are the three types of insomnia?

Insomnia can be classified by its cause, as either primary or secondary. But it can also be classified by its duration. Insomnia types distinguished by durations can furthermore be classified into three separate types:[6] transient, short-term, and chronic insomnia.[7] Transient insomnia is when you have bouts of sleeplessness that last less than a month. Short-term insomnia is classified as having difficulty sleeping for between one and six months, while chronic insomnia is trouble sleeping that lasts for longer than six months.

What are some tips to fall asleep?

Most importantly, having a consistent sleep schedule should generally help you fall asleep. This is called having proper sleep hygiene. Adding exercise to your life, as well as making sure not to eat large meals just before bed, can also promote drowsiness.[8] Many people find that writing down their worries and avoiding stimulants before bed help them fall asleep swiftly. Another tip to alleviate anxiety and stress before bed is to have a hot beverage such as a hot cup of herbal tea, hot milk, or CBD tea for sleep.  Others find that taking the sleep-promoting supplement melatonin, or CBD sleep gummies with melatonin, help them to fall asleep. However, these techniques are not clinically proven to work. It is important to find the best way to fall asleep for you, as everyone responds to different methods.

What causes insomnia?

Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. Insomnia can either be a primary condition or a secondary condition. What causes sleeplessness often depends on the duration of your bouts of trouble sleeping. In the short term, insomnia is often caused by external life stressors or the use of medications and stimulants. Chronic insomnia can be related to a coexisting condition, such as anxiety, sleep, or neurological disorders.

Master Sources

[1] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12119-insomnia

[2] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/insomnia-what-you-need-to-know-as-you-age

[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167

[4] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/insomnia-what-you-need-to-know-as-you-age

[5] https://aasm.org/resources/factsheets/insomnia.pdf

[6] https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/sleep/insomnia/types.html

[7] https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/sleep/insomnia/types.html

[8] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

Latest posts by ASA Authors & Reviewers (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Popular Sleep Topics

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Thank you. You are now subscribed!

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.