Alaska Sleep Education Center

Four Common Causes of Insomnia

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on Sep 13, 2022 7:39:05 AM

Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Types, and More

A common sleep disorder known as insomnia can make it difficult to fall asleep, keep asleep, or lead you to awaken too early and have trouble falling back asleep. Your health, productivity, and quality of life can be negatively impacted by insomnia, in addition to your level of energy and mood. Individual sleep needs vary, but most individuals need 7 to 8 hours every night. However, short-term (acute) insomnia that lasts a day or weeks affects many individuals. Furthermore, others experience persistent long-term insomnia, which lasts for one month or longer. This article details a few causes of insomnia you should be aware of.

  • Irregular sleep schedules

The body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) would ideally closely match the daily day and night cycle. In actuality, many people's sleep patterns throw off their circadian cycle. The two well-known scenarios are shift work and jet lag. Since a person's body can't adjust to a sudden change in time zone, jet lag makes it difficult to fall asleep. On the other hand, some working shifts necessitate working during the night and sleeping throughout the day. As a result, insomnia and a compromised circadian rhythm can result in either way. Circadian rhythms in some people can be moved forward or backward for unknown reasons, impairing sleep quality and consistency over time.

  • Pain and physical illness 

Almost any painful condition makes it difficult to lie peacefully in bed, which might interfere with sleep. When you cannot sleep, focusing on your pain might worsen, leading to more stress and sleep issues. A major contributing factor to sleeplessness may also be health issues associated with Type II diabetes. There is a link between diabetes and other medical problems like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and depression, which are known to disrupt sleep. Other medical conditions, such as those that impact the nervous or respiratory systems, may make it difficult to fall asleep and lead to either temporary or persistent insomnia. However, with the help of insurance plans, such as the Medicare Advantage Plans, you can treat your medical conditions with minimal struggle and get better sleep.

  • Neurological problems

It has been discovered that brain issues like neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental conditions are linked to a higher incidence of sleeplessness. A person's circadian rhythm and interpretation of daily cues that regulate sleep-wake cycles can be affected by neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's. Confusion at night can make it harder to sleep. Hyperarousal brought on by neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may make it difficult for people to obtain the rest they require at night. Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also frequently have trouble sleeping, and the issues might last into adulthood. But with good insurance plans like the Medicare Advantage Plans, they can get the help they need at a minimal cost.

  • Medications

Many drugs might have adverse effects, including insomnia and sleep issues. Examples are antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and asthma medications. Other medicines may make people sleepy during the day, disrupting their sleep cycle. Not simply taking drugs can also cause sleep disruption.

Why Should You Treat Your Insomnia ASAP?

1. Insomnia can affect your cognitive abilities

When you're constantly losing sleep because of insomnia (or any other sleep disorder) your brain doesn't get the time it needs to perform these important tasks. Studies show that poor sleep quality leads to cognitive impairment including memory troubles, difficulty learning, poor judgment, and decreased concentration.

In turn, your cognitive troubles could lead to...

2. It can lead to decreased performance at work/school

Some studies have even found that work itself can cause sleep deprivation, which in turn leads to poor work performance from being tired. A poll found most people do 4.5 hours of work each week from home, with approximately 20% doing 10 hours or more at home in addition to their 40-hour workweek.

In order to make up for the extra time needed for working on projects, many people sacrifice their sleep to get more done in a day, which turns out to be counterproductive as sleep loss makes them less efficient at their work. 


3. It can lead to depression or anxiety

The impact on mood and cognitive abilities over time can lead to developing depression in insomniacs. People suffering from insomnia are nearly five times more likely to suffer from depression compared to those without sleep troubles.

Trouble sleeping often leads to anxiety about getting sleep. Over time, chronic anxiety can lead to depression. And depression can lead to sleep problems. This creates a vicious cycle where depression and insomnia feed off each other and exacerbate each other's symptoms.

Treating insomnia or depression can help alleviate not only the targeted disorder but the other disorder as well.

4. It puts you at risk for driving and work accidents

Workers who are sleep deprived are much more likely to make mistakes, have slower reaction speeds, and have poorer judgment than those who are refreshed from a good night's sleep. Studies have shown that people suffering from chronic sleep deprivation are twice as likely to have workplace accidents, and also twice as likely to die in a work-related accident.

Beyond the workplace, sleepiness is also the cause of many vehicle accidents.  According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans claimed to have driven while drowsy, and 37% admitted to falling asleep at the wheel in the past year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5% of fatal crashes and 2% of injury crashes involve drowsy driving. Although it is believed the estimates may be a bit conservative and that up to 5-6 thousand fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy driving.

5. It puts you at risk for health problems

Studies show that patients with chronic insomnia are at greater risk for developing cardiac problems than those with normal sleep patterns.

For normal sleepers, blood pressure is linked to sleep-wake cycles. During periods of wakefulness, blood pressure rises, and it dips down when asleep. For patients with insomnia, nighttime blood pressure doesn't dip as much as it should leading to overall higher blood pressure both when awake and when asleep.

High blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of developing or worsening cardiac conditions such as:

  • Heart disease

  • Heart attack

  • Heart failure

  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)

  • Stroke

  • Diabetes


Losing sleep can impact your physical and emotional health because sleep is as essential to good health as a balanced diet and regular workout. In general, those with insomnia exhibit a lower quality of life than those who get proper sleep.

A lot of serious consequences can directly be contributed to a lack of sleep. Getting help for any sleep disorder is vital to one's overall health. If you're suffering from insomnia and would like to seek treatment, contact your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms.

There are many treatment options available for insomnia including medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. If you live in Alaska and would like to speak to a sleep specialist about your chronic insomnia, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic by clicking the link below to receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep educator who can help you determine the next best course of action for your sleep troubles.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, insomnia, treatment, sleep hygiene, sleep apnea treatment, alaska, alaska sleep, alaska sleep center

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