Causes of Insomnia

November 12, 2012

Causes of Insomnia

There are many different causes of insomnia from psychiatric conditions to side effects of medications. In some cases it is due to a combination of a number of factors.

Psychiatric Conditions

Mental health problems, even ones that you may not be aware of can be one of the causes of insomnia. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression

  • Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia

  • Anxiety disorder such as anxiety, panic disorder or post traumatic stress disorder

Stressful events

Stressful events or traumatic experiences are another of the common causes of insomnia. It is also common for the insomnia continue even after the feelings of stress have been relieved. This happens when the body becomes accustomed to not sleeping whilst experiencing stress so these behaviours continue after the initial cause has been resolved. The mind, in these cases not associate the bedroom and sleeping times with being awake and alert, so proper sleeping behaviours need to be relearned. Circumstances that may be considered stressful events include major life changes like moving house or starting a new job but may also be down to worrying about something such as work, money or health. The death of a loved one or an illness in the family are common causes of stress but it can also be something as minor as background noise or a light left on that can prevent you from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Physical Conditions

There are a number of physical illnesses that can contribute to the causes of insomnia such as:

  • Heart disease

  • Respiratory Disease (such as asthma)

  • Neurological Disease (such as Alzheimer¬ís or Parkinson¬ís disease)

  • Hormone disorders (such as an overactive thyroid)

  • Muscle or joint problems (such as arthritis)

  • Genital or urinary organs (such as an enlarged prostate or urinary incontinence)

  • Chronic pain

  • Sleeping disorders (such as restless leg syndrome or narcolepsy)

Drug and Substance Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse as well as nicotine and excessive consumption of caffeine are all causes of insomnia and can have a dramatic affect on sleeping patterns and behaviours.


There are many examples of medications, which are known to be one of the potential causes of insomnia. This includes prescribed medications and over the counter ones and include:

  • Anti-depressants

  • Epilepsy medications

  • Hypertension medications (beta-blockers)

  • Hormone replacement therapy

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Stimulant drugs (such as those used to treat ADHD)

  • Some asthma medications

Category: Articles