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Most Common Causes of Insomnia

Updated on September 20, 2012

Chronic insomnia is a condition that can creep on gradually or begin all at once due to a specific event. Everyone who experiences insomnia has a different story to tell. However, the general causes of insomnia have a common denominator and that is poor sleep hygiene practices of one kind or another.

Ongoing Anxiety and Stress

Worry and anxiety are the most common reasons for sleeping problems. Built up stress is a major insomnia inducer and illness promoter. If you find yourself worrying endlessly over things you really don’t have much control over, I suggest doing what you can to get over this habit – and yes…worry can be a habit and habitual thinking can be modified to a more useful pattern.

Post Traumatic Stress

If you’ve ever gone through a traumatic event that shook you up, you know that your mind will replay that incident over and over and over again. This is how our brain processes something we can’t believe actually happened. Getting restful sleep during this period is doubtful, but normally once enough time has passed (usually a few days or weeks), we return to our previous state of mind.

Sometimes though, the trauma (or multiple traumatic events) is simply too much to process without help and this is when seeking counseling from a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist would be advised. Full blown PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) needs treatment and many people do not seek help when they should.

Obesity and Lack of Exercise

Are you grossly overweight, sit all day long in front of a computer, and then come home and sit in front of the TV? You’re certainly not alone. The combination of obesity, staring at a screen all day and lack of movement is another one of the more common causes of chronic insomnia – it’s a recipe for poor sleep. Many people dismiss reasons like this, but they are valid.

Be creative and come up with ways to increase your daily exercise…it really doesn’t have to be hours at the gym or anything. Take a brisk 30 minute walk, climb stairs instead of riding the elevator, park farther away from the store, sweep the floor, engage in shaking (see vid below) and so on. The energy in our bodies needs to be used up to sleep well.

Shaking for the Sedentary

Sunlight During the Day – Darkness at Night

Getting more sunlight was extremely helpful in restoring my ability to sleep. I never lacked for being outdoors, but I never, ever went out without sunglasses. Once I started leaving my sunglasses off I started sleeping better. This may sound too simple to be true, but the surface of our eyes requires sunlight during the day to trigger the release of melatonin (sleep hormone) at night.

At night, it is important to have total darkness if you have a history of insomnia. Any bit of bright light can wake you up instantly and then falling asleep again may not happen. An eye mask takes care of this problem nicely. Get a dark colored one though as the lighter colored ones do not totally block out the light.

Other Causes of Insomnia

There are other causes of insomnia that are not as common and these include certain medications, chronic pain, sleep apnea and other diseases that make sleeping through the night difficult.

Talk to your doctor about some of these issues if you suspect they may be contributing to sleeplessness. Even in these cases, sleep can be managed with the right plan of action.


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    • bloggering profile image

      bloggering 5 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks so much Sommer!

    • SommerDalton profile image

      Sommer Dalton 5 years ago

      This is very detailed, loved it, thumbs up and useful!