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Sleeplessness or Insomnia – Do You Know the Cause?

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Sleeplessness or Insomnia – Do You Know the Cause?

Many people often get confused with their sleep and assume that they have insomnia. They are not insomniacs as they attend parties regularly and stay out late and also work late hours in the office to get ahead of others. The next morning, they wake up feeling very tired as they could not sleep properly the night before. In reality, this is not insomnia. If a person is finding it difficult to fall asleep even after trying every possible means or if a person can’t stay asleep for long, then, it is termed as insomnia. Now let us understand the reason behind your insomnia.


Getting stressed in day-to-day life and then calming down is common for many of us. However, certain unforeseen circumstances, events and factors – such as sudden illness, death of a loved one, loss of job and financial loss – cause some sleepless nights. Normal healthy individuals face this sort of situations for sometime and then become alright. Doctor call this as acute insomnia – which after continuing for some time goes on its own. However, long-term, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, depression and excessive thinking can cause insomnia – which is long-term and more serious. This type of insomnia is termed as chronic insomnia. These two types of insomnia can disturb your sleep.

Breathing Trouble

Recurrent cold and flu infections, allergies, nasal obstruction and asthma can cause breathing difficulties. In addition, a deviated nasal septum can also interfere with the breathing. Sleep apnea is a term used to describe a medical condition in which an individual’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. A person’s breathing stops repeatedly – even hundreds of times. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may be due to the blockage of the airway caused by the collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the throat during sleep. In Central Sleep Apnea the brain fails to signal the muscles that help in breathing owing to the imbalances in the respiratory control centre of the brain. These two types of sleep apnea can disturb your breathing and sleep as well.

Disturbed Biological Clock

Human beings are tuned to a fixed sleep and wakeup cycle – which is programmed according to a person’s sleep and wakeup routine. If a person follows a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, then his or her circadian rhythm fixes according. Sometimes, inconsistent bedtime, changes in job timings (Shifts), a long flight, and late-night work can cause a disturbance in the body’s biological clock. A distorted body clock keeps a person awake. This is a temporary condition. It can be fixed by changing lifestyle. However, over a period of time, some people develop a different circadian rhythm, which is out of sort with their regular activities. Therefore, they find it very difficult to sleep at normal times. Thus, a disturbing biological clock can cause insomnia.

Mental Illness

Many people who seek medical help for their insomnia are often diagnosed with depression or any other mental illness. In nearly about 50% of cases of insomnia disturbed mind has a role more than half of the time. Individuals who have depression are prone to sleep disturbances including insomnia. Other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar and anxiety disorders can also lead to insomnia. Therefore, in individuals who approach a specialist seeking help for insomnia, the likelihood of having a mental disorder is quite common.


Chronic illness, pain, weakness and fatigue disturb sleep to an extent that a person becomes insomniac. Leg pain, restless leg syndrome, arthritis pain, chronic back pain and fibromyalgia can all prevent an individual from falling asleep. Even if a person tries to sleep, he or she cannot sleep peacefully due to intermittent sleep interruptions. By every passing day, the sufferer becomes more and more hypersensitive to pain – and therefore, the pain hurts more. The vicious cycle of sleepless nights and painful days continues as long as the symptoms are not dealt with the actual cause behind them.

Bottom Line

Insomnia can be due to several causes as mentioned above. It is therefore important on your part to know about your own health status and the symptoms associated with insomnia, prior to approaching a specialist for seeking treatment. A better understanding of your health condition and associated symptoms will help you in approaching the right doctor at the right time.

Sunshine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences

The Sunshine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences deals with a broad range of psychiatric problems ranging from stress, anxiety, bereavement, sleep disorders, insomnia, personality disorders, relationship problems and depression to severe and enduring illnesses like Schizophrenia, bipolar illness and many more such conditions. Our Department of Psychiatric and Behavioural Sciences is committed to offering treatments for psychiatric conditions by encompassing all procedures standard in psychiatric practice.

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