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Insomnia - Causes and Treatment

Updated on August 22, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

I spent 22 years in the nursing profession. I enjoy writing, reading historical novels, gardening, and helping people live a healthier life.

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Insomnia Overview

Scientist have new information for insomnia treatments, as well as, other types of sleep disorders. Any diagnosis of insomnia obviously comes from a clinical interview with a patient, another family member is helpful, and the patient diary documenting the problem is helpful.

Some patients are referred to as sleep Center for some tests, or other possible reasons for the sleeping disturbance. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects up to one third of adults in Western countries, has a high prevalence in women versus men, and is often associated with a psychiatric disorder.

It is difficult to function at work and get things done when you are not getting adequate rest. it is important to make whatever changes are necessary to get an adequate amount of sleep to maintain good health.

source Flickr
source Flickr

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Disturbances of your natural circadian rhythm are a problem for some people. The key feature of circadian rhythm disorders is a continuous or occasional disruption of sleep patterns.

Some of the possible causes of circadian rhythm disorder:

  • Consider jet lag in time zone changes
  • Shift work when you work rotating shifts
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS): people tend to fall asleep and wake up late to go to work or school
  • Advanced sleep phase syndrome: people tend to fall asleep early in the evening and wake up earlier than desired in the morning

Non 24-hour sleep wake disorder: This is a condition in which an individual has a normal sleep pattern but lives in a 25-hour day. The person has inconsistent insomnia which occurs at different times each night, and they sometimes fall asleep earlier and wake earlier, or they fall asleep later and wake up later.

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Parasomnias are disruptive sleep-related disorders that can occur during arousals from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or arousal from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Parasomnias:

  • are characterized by undesirable physical or verbal behaviors, such as walking or talking during sleep
  • occur in association with sleep, specific stages of sleep or sleep-wake transitions
  • can be divided into two groups—primary parasomnias and secondary parasomnias.

Types of Parasomnisa

Nightmares – The person is usually awakened from REM (rapid eye movement) sleep with feelings of terror, fear and anxiety. Nightmares can be caused by many factors including illness, anxiety, the loss of a loved one, or negative reactions to a medication.

Sleep terrors, night terrors – A person experiencing a sleep terror awakened in a terrified state but while they appear awake they are confused and not able to communicate for about 15 minutes. At this point they can usually go back to sleep and won’t remember the dream in the morning

Sleepwalking usually occurs during non-REM sleep in the early evening. Again this is seen primarily in children 6-12 and can run in families.

REM Sleep behavior disorder (RBD) -People with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder act out dramatic and/or violent dreams during REM sleep. Usually, RBD occurs in men aged 50 and older.

Insomnia Complications

What do We Know?

Insomnia is a subjective disorder and is usually long term. Circadian rhythm disorders are sleep disorders in which there is a mismatch between circadian rhythms and the required sleep-wake cycle.

Parasomnias are unusual episodes or behaviors occurring during sleep. It is important to treat insomnia because the condition causes decreased quality of life; is associated with impaired functioning in many areas; and leads to increased risk for depression, anxiety, and possibly cardiovascular disorders.

The goal of treatment is to lessen anguish and improve daytime function. Choice of treatment modality is patient guided and is based on the particular pattern of problem, such as sleep-onset insomnia or sleep maintenance, as well as on the evidence supporting use of specific treatments. There are several types of prescriptions available that your doctor can prescribe.

Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep-onset latency and quality of life in patients older than 55 years. Antidepressants for insomnia should be considered when there is a coexistent mood disorder. Antihistamines have a limited role in psychiatric and primary care practice for the management of insomnia.

For the treatment of circadian rhythm disorders, melatonin is effective in jet lag disorder. For parasomnias, drug treatment should be based on frequency and severity of events. Psychological treatments are effective for nightmares.

Sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are two other sleep problems.

Daytime Sleepiness


Tios for Sleep

  1. Take a hot bath or shower to relax before bed.
  2. Try reading something instead of watching a violent show on TV.
  3. Drink a cup of hot non-caffeinated tea, but avoid late night snacks.
  4. Keep your room as dark as possible as any light can interfere with your production of melatonin.
  5. Set a regular bedtime, but reasonably early as our best sleep is typically between 11:00 PM and 1 AM.
  6. Wear socks to bed as this is the area of poorest circulation in your body; cool feet can wake you up.
  7. Don't have the clock too close to the bed where you stare at it during the night as you only become more aware of your lack of sleep.
  8. Drink less fluids toward night as this will keep you from waking up to go to the bathroom.
  9. Meditation and prayer are very good to help you relax right before bed.
  10. Some people find it helpful to wear an eye mask for sleep.
  11. Hypnotics are the most effective medications for treating sleep disorders.
  12. Use white noise or a sleep noise machine which will often help.
  13. These are just a few suggestions which may help. Of course, eating healthy and regular exercise are always helpful for a healthy life.

Defining and Diagnosing Insomnia Disorder


Insomnia is a major problem for many people and when it occurs over a long period of time it can become a health problem. Inadequate sleep causes many health problems, and it certainly becomes difficult to function at work or at home when you are exhausted.

The tips that are listed should be helpful for some people. It is wise to seek medical treatment if you cannot resolve the problem with the above suggestions.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Annamie, Thank you so much for your comments and the share. Have a wonderful 2013.

  • profile image

    Annamie Cureteyz 

    8 years ago

    Wow, you got a complete post about a certain sleeping disorder here. I will surely share this blog, thank you for sharing and for posting informative posts as this.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    symptom diagnosis, Insomnia is a difficult problem to deal with. I have heard many suggestions that help people that have difficulty getting to sleep. They say taking a shower before bedtime is helpful, don't watch TV, particularly anything violent in the hour or so before bedtime, Melatonin is helpful for some people and others do some simple stretching to loosen up the muscles and deep breathing before lying down. Stress usually is the cause and maybe a few counseling sessions will help. Of course, I am just making suggestions because I don't know what the answer might be for your husband, but I hope his insomnia goes away. Thank you for sharing the problem and for your comments.

  • profile image

    symptom diagnosis 

    10 years ago

    I've never had a problem with sleeping - I can often catnap for an hour or so in the afternoons (although I wake up feeling terrible and regret it!) - but my husband sometimes has problems getting to sleep. It seems to be getting worse, often he only gets to sleep around 3am - which is not helpful when he has to get up at 6.30am to get to work. I think his problem is that he thinks too much - he worries about things, constantly thinks about a topic, thinks about work. He needs to learn how to relax - we've been together for nearly ten years and I can honestly say that unless he's watching TV or working on his car he cannot relax!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Support Med, I think you are right. Thanks for your comment.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 

    10 years ago from Michigan

    Interesting and well written. A good nights sleep is essential. I think we all have times when we can't get to sleep, but when prolonged, I do believe other issues are involved. Excellent hub and hope we all sleep well. Voted/rated.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Cagsil, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I have insomnia where I wake up very early in the morning or middle of the night. I have no trouble going to sleep but by the time I am in bed for a few hours joint pain wakes me due to arthritis (2 types), so sometimes there are medical reasons causing the problem, not always depressions, stress,etc.

  • Cagsil profile image

    Raymond D Choiniere 

    11 years ago from USA

    Hey Pamela, great hub on Insomnia. It was a great read. I'm always up for learning something new. I have no experience with Insomnia, but I have known people who claim to have had problems with it. I find anything that deals with the psyche of a person is subjective and more guess work, due to so many different variables. However, I did like your hub. Thank you for sharing. :)

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Katiem, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • katiem2 profile image

    Katie McMurray 

    11 years ago from Ohio

    I now have a much better understanding of the different types of sleep disorders and how to know which you may be suffering from. Great facts on Insomnia

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    coffesnob, Your problem is certainly common enough as I think it is just hard to turn your brain off sometimes. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Excellenet hub,

    Once I get to sleep I am ok. For me it is the getting there.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Miata, I hope you don't ever have the problem and prayer is powerful anyway. I appreciate your comments.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image


    11 years ago from US

    I can trust you on this Pam, I never had this prob maybe because I pray a lot, smiles, , Very useful information, Maita

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Leanman, A lot of people have that problem. It's hard to leave work at work sometimes. Thanks for your comment.

    drej, I am thinking of trying one of those also. Thanks for your comments.

    Hello, I find reading helps also, especially more than late TV. Thanks for your comment and good luck working out your sleeping problem.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    11 years ago from London, UK

    I suffer from it and it is horrible. Lately, I found that when I read I will fall asleep easier. No disrespect to the author hahaha Thank you for a very comprehensive hub including the various sleep disorders which I never knew anything about.

  • drej2522 profile image


    11 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    Dang it, I think I have insomnia! What a horrible sleep disorder. I'll definitely look into getting one of those Rejuvenation Millet Pillows and get that much needed rapid eye movement thingy!

    Great insight here! Thumbs up!

  • LeanMan profile image


    11 years ago from At the Gemba

    A very informative hub, thank you. I suffer from insomnia when working, can never get things out of my head to let me sleep.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Audry, It is a frustrating problem for so many people. Thanks for your comment.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    11 years ago from Washington

    Great information on a very maddening problem for a lot of people!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    MartieCoetser, I haven't started that hub yet but I will do it soon. Thanks for your comments.

    Sheila, I haven't had enough time to read it very often so I am behind but maybe life will get easier as I just put my 30th hub up for the contest. Thanks for the comments.

  • sheila b. profile image

    sheila b. 

    11 years ago

    Very interesting. One of the writers on Blue Street wrote about his sleep studies and how helpful they were for him.

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    11 years ago from South Africa

    One of my problems, if not the only. You have covered it thoroughly. I’m looking forward to the hub about apnee. Thanks for all the info, Pamela!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Teddletonmr, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your comments.

    Ken, It seems like everyone has a little insomnia now and then. Thanks for your comment.

    50 Caliber, Sounds like you've been through the mill with the testing and so forth. Those symptoms sound like some I described. I would imagine they have something to do with your PTSD as nightmares and jerking awake suddenly aren't uncommon. I guess we will have to trust the God Lord to heal you. I believe he can do that.

    I don't think I'll be having a cup of coffee if I drop in, unless you have a lot of cream. Thanks for your comments and I'll pray for you to get a good nights sleep. :}

  • 50 Caliber profile image

    50 Caliber 

    11 years ago from Arizona

    Great read, insomnia is a drag to say the least, I've done several sleep studies at the VA, some for 3 nights at a time. I think they were studying the effects of PTSD, more than trying to help. I'm animated in my sleep, from waving arms and kicking feet all the while talking and worse. I often awake in mid sentence arms in the air but have no clue what was going on. I haven't remembered a dream in over 30 years, and I as well as the sleep clinic find that strange. I was allowed to view the tape of myself and see and hear what I was saying and yelling. I wish I hadn't seen it as it has bothered me ever since, that so much happens each night and I don't remember. I've never reached the REM stage during any sleep study. I finally gave it up as they started throwing drugs at the issues and some just about turned me to a zombie. So I just live with the chronic fatigue syndrome that they call it and move on coffee power, most swear I'm drinking pureed grounds and a little water when they sample my morning brew.

    An interesting hub you have presented, I vote it up for those who can over come it, 50

  • Ken R. Abell profile image

    Ken R. Abell 

    11 years ago from ON THE ROAD

    As someone who goes through bouts of insomnia from time to time, I found this interesting & informational. Thank you.

  • Teddletonmr profile image

    Mike Teddleton 

    11 years ago from Midwest USA

    Pamela99 your hub, Insomna -Scientist Information and Treatment is very informative. I enjoyed reading it very much, thanks for writing it.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Tom, I am the same way. I wake up very early, sometimes in the middle of the night and sleep in the afternoon as necessary. Thanks for your comment.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    11 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    Thank you for the useful information. I don't have any trouble falling asleep, but as I've gotten older I find I can't sleep as long at a stretch, and I take an afternoon nap to get my needed sleep. I think this is common as we age.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 years ago from Sunny Florida

    msorensson, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • msorensson profile image


    11 years ago

    Thank you Pamela. I have heard of these but you put it so well together.


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