Insomnia - Everything You Need To Know

Medically reviewed by John A. Flores M.D., M.S. April 04, 2024| Written by Abdul Jabbar

Insomnia - Everything You Need To Know

Do you ever feel like sleep is playing hard to get through the night? Or, are you waking up too early for no reason? Well, that tricky culprit might be "Insomnia," which is a sleep disorder that turns bedtime into a bit of a horror story.

Research reveals thatabout 25 percent of people in the U.S. experience sleep deficiency every year. So, if you are having a never-ending battle trying to fall asleep; then you’re not alone. Besides, factors like jet lag, diet, and stress affect a person’s ability to get sufficient sleep from time to time.

But if you let this sleep drama go on without treatment, it may lead tosleep deprivation which in the long run can have harmful effects such as heart disease, diabetes, or chronic pain. Apart from that, chronic insomnia, which is impaired sleep lasting 3 months or more, can adversely impact your concentration & memory.

But worry not! Keep reading this article as we’ll discuss why you’re struggling with sleep. We’ll also discuss why it happened, its diagnosis, and how to fix it.

Possible Causes of Insomnia

Experts don’t know exactly why insomnia happens. But yes, it is guaranteed that it includes several factors that contribute to it. You may have difficulty sleeping due to an irregular sleep schedule, lifestyle habits, or any personal circumstances.

Below are some common and most prominent reasons for insomnia:

1. Depression

Studies reveal that insomnia and depression are generally interlinked. Depression is like a nighttime thief, which steals away the calmness you need for a good sleep. After all, falling asleep is hard when your thoughts prevent you from finding peace in the quiet hours.

Recent research has revealed that sleep problems like difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early, and trouble maintaining good sleep are common symptoms that cut across various mental disorders, especially those linked to depression.

2. Overeating Late In the Evening

Eating late? How’s that causing insomnia? I see your reaction, but that’s what’s true!

You see, having a little bit of a snack before sleeping is fine. But eating too much can make you uncomfortable during bedtime.

A lot of people who overeat before going to bed experienceheartburn and other conditions. These can keep you awake the entire night. So, take a break and let your stomach rest before you lay down!

3. Lifestyle Changes

Temporary or brief changes can also make sleep troublesome. These include a new work schedule, sleeping in a strange place, or jet lag. Long-term changes like shifting to a new house can also trigger sleeping issues.

4. Obesity Disorders

Sleep problems are highly associated with obesity. You are 33% more likely to become obese if you sleep less than 6 hours every single night.

The obesity rate for people who sleep 6 hours is almost 6%. This pattern is found in both men and women of ethnic groups of all ages.

5. Stress and Anxiety

Short-term insomnia can occur when you are stressed as your mind remains active at night. But it can also happen if you are too excited to do something the other day. In this scenario, busy thoughts and muscles team up, which boosts restlessness.

InColleen’s book, it is stated that sleep deprivation is associated with the development of anxiety problems in almost one-quarter of its sufferers. Traumatic events like divorce, job loss, or the death of a close one can also cause long-term anxiety or stress - leading to chronic insomnia.

6. Medicines

Medicines are the remedy for ailments. But they too can disrupt your sleep. It’s because the body gets so used to these medicines that catching peaceful sleep without them becomes a struggle.

These mainly include over-the-counter medicines such as those for colds or allergies. But these can also include weight-loss products that contain stimulants, as these can make your bedtime complicated.

Self-treatment — Measures To Take!

It’s a bitter fact that many people have busy lives and gradually grow careless about their well-being at home. Taking care of yourself must be the absolute priority before anything else.

Instead of ignoring your health until it becomes necessary to see a doctor, it’s a good idea to practice healthy life habits that prevent health deterioration in the first place.

You can take the following practical measures to improve sleep through self-care:

  • Stick to the scheduled bedtime routine.
  • Cut back on caffeine, especially in the afternoon.
  • Try meditation or mindfulness when you’re alone.
  • Control your screen time.
  • Relax with gentle stretches or deep breathing.
  • SeekCognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT treatment to reduce the severity of insomnia.
  • Do proper exercise regularly to maintain good health.
  • Gainsleep hygiene education to develop healthy sleep habits as it manages insomnia.

Side Effects of Insomnia

The impacts of sleep stress are terrible, and it can make anyone’s life challenging. Think of pathogenic sleep reactivity asvulnerable to circadian and insomnia disorders.

Literature represents a complex relationship between sleep and stress, wherein exposure to tense events (i.e., daily hassles or major life scenarios) impairs sleep function.

Here are some prominent side effects of insomnia that shouldn’t be ignored:

1. Shortened Life Expectancy

Don’t let sleeplessness continue if you want to live a healthy,long life. Evidence shows that insomnia patients have a shorter life expectancy than those who take 7-8 hours of sleep.

2. Immune System

The human body recovers and restores itself during sleep. Individuals who do not get proper sleep may have toxins in their bodies, making it hard for the immune system to function correctly. And so it may become difficult to deal with infections.

3. Headaches

People suffering from headaches in the past have often reported an increase in headache frequencies with a lack of sleep.

4. Chronic Pain

If you have had problems with chronic pain in the past, severe sleeplessness can worsen your health.

5. Complications in Pregnancy

Pregnant ladies must take a lot of rest. Suppose you are pregnant and think that you are having insomnia. In that case, you do not need to panic because it is common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes in the body.

But if it is long-term, you must consult your physician for guidance.

6. Breathing Problems

Asthma, emphysema, or allergy patients can suffer more breathing issues than they are accustomed to when suffering from insomnia attacks.

Duration of Insomnia

Insomnia means you are not getting enough good quality sleep, which will make your body inactive. For some people, acute insomnia generally lasts only a few days or weeks. Meanwhile, others may experience it for a longer duration (3 months straight), i.e., chronic insomnia.

a. Chronic Insomnia Disorder

In the case of chronic insomnia, sleep disturbances happen at least three times a week and persist for more than three months.

b. Short-Term Insomnia Disorder

Short-Term Insomnia Disorder is characterized by sleep disturbances that have been present for less than three months.

c. Other Insomnia Disorders

These are unlike chronic or short-term insomnia disorders, where you don’t get enough sleep. Instead, you experience difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep.


Insomnia symptoms are distinctly visible in about 35% to 50%adult population.

If you see the below symptoms often, you should seek treatment right away:

  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Sleepiness or daytime fatigue
  • Poor focus and concentration
  • Gastrointestinal issues.
  • Low energy or motivation
  • Using alcohol or medication to fall asleep
  • Difficulty in socializing, studying, or working
  • A lack of coordination
  • Tension and headaches for no reason


If you have insomnia symptoms, it’s time to know how to diagnose it properly.

Typically, the doctors do a physical examination and ask patients about their sleep & medical history. They may tell you to keep a specific sleep diary for one or two weeks and how you feel during bedtime.

To diagnose and treat your sleep issues, they will likely follow these steps:

  • Do a proper physical examination
  • Ask you about your sleep patterns and usage of drugs or alcohol
  • Request a test of overnight sleep to record the pattern
  • Recommend wearing a device to track sleep-awake patterns and movements
  • Test for specific underlying conditions

What tests?

Well, there are no specific tests to identify insomnia directly. But some tests help you to evaluate similar insomnia symptoms, which include:

  • Multiple sleep latency tests
  • Actigraphy
  • Sleep study
  • Sleep apnea testing
  • Blood tests

The exact tests will depend on your symptoms, and the physician may request additional tests depending on the results of new findings.

Your physician may also recommend lifestyle changes, medications, and CBT to help you handle thisinsomnia condition. So, let’s discuss the treatment:


The constant struggle to find helpful insomnia treatment can be both challenging and frustrating. However, treating this condition is crucial so it doesn’t increase other health risks.

But you don’t need to panic anymore, as we’re here to help you with some practical and accessible solutions to overcome this situation:

1. Cognitive & Behavioral Therapy For Insomnia (CBTI)

An effective six to eight-week insomnia treatment approach is CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. It teaches you to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for a long time. So, it is an excellent option to manage sleep.

Usually, it includes relaxation techniques, such as changing negative attitudes or thoughts that affect the sleep schedule.

Thesebehavioral & psychological therapies have also been used in combination with other strategies, such as acupuncture and dietary supplements, to cure insomnia.

2. Homeopathic Treatment

Several insomniac patients have found helpful homeopathy for long sleepless nights, mainly when used in combination with yoga, dietary supplements, and hypnosis.

Scientific research also supports the use of these techniques to treat your anxious and worried heart because of sleep deprivation.

But homeopathy alone may not be as effective as other methods, as a2010 review concluded that homeopathic medicines don’t significantly impact insomnia patients.

3. Sleep Medications

Last but not least, sleep medications can be your best bet when sleep begins to play hide-and-seek with you and the nights feel like a never-ending battle.

They come up in distinct shapes, whether liquids, pills, or patches — each convincing your mind that it’s time to take a break and switch off the button of busy thoughts temporarily.

In chronic insomnia, you might need to getassistance from prescribed medication if CBTi remains ineffective and doesn’t work.

How Can One Fix Insomnia?

It is common to have insomnia nowadays due to several reasons. If the lack of sleep adversely affects our daily lives, we should consult with the doctor to overcome it.

Your doctor physically examines you and asks about your symptoms. In addition, a healthcare provider gives you possible mental healthcare options and resources to deal with it.

Although there are many medical and non-medical treatments for Insomnia, it can betreated better with cognitive-behavioral therapy, which includes sleep restriction, sleep hygiene, as well as stimulus control.

It is more effective than any other meditation, so you shouldn’t miss out on trying this.

Can Insomnia Go Away?

Every insomniac wonders: “Will this sleeplessness ever go away?” If one makes significant healthy choices, odds are it will go away.

Many patients recover from insomnia by sticking to a continuous bedtime routine, sleeping in a comfortable environment, and doing things that release stress, like yoga and other exercises.

Chronic insomnia often requires you to seek a doctor's help. This is frequently an arduous journey, but you are a champion, right? Take steps to improve your sleep and prepare for a brighter future and worry-less nights!

After all, improving your health so you can sleep better will also improve the overall quality of your life.

How Do You Calm Insomnia?

If you want to calm your insomnia, you should do some things that can assist you sleep, such as reading books and stretching your mind. It would help if you created a peaceful atmosphere by switching off the lights and putting away all your gadgets. No exceptions!

Moreover, patients should avoid coffee at night and maintain a peaceful rest routine. Alternatively, you can try herbal teas like peppermint and lavender that promote sleep.

Try taking deep breaths before sleep.

Picknon-pharmacological treatments over medication, but take pills only if sleep deprivation has grown severe.

But if you still don’t feel any improvement in your condition, see your doctor immediately.

What Effects Do Diet And Lifestyle Changes Have On Insomnia?

Fed up with insomnia, tried treatment, but nothing worked? Don’t worry; we’ve got a perfect solution for night owls who struggle with sleep.

Yes, you guessed that right! It is the positive changes in lifestyle and diet. So,

  1. Put your electric device down. Research shows that there’s astrong association between depression and screen time, especially among U. S. adults.
  2. Mind what you eat and how much you eat. Both overeating and consuming the wrong food can affect your capacity to sleep.
  3. Get involved in physical activities — even if it’s just walking around.
  4. Follow a specific routine to relax yourself before bedtime. For instance, taking a bath, listening to music, and reading books.
  5. Kick alcohol and caffeine out of your life, as they have detrimental effects.
  6. Don’t sleep throughout the day, as it can keep you awake at night. Ashort nap of 30 minutes to 1 hour after lunch would helpavoid sleep loss (if you have prolonged work).
  7. Avoid stressful activities before you lay down.
  8. Use curtains to make the room dark, and turn off your lights.
  9. Do something that makes you sleepy and calm.
  10. Start relaxation exercises, like deep breathing, before you go to bed.
If it’s hard to stay motivated, remember thatgreater risks are associated with using sleeping pills than with risks of insomnia or short sleep. And so, these lifestyle changes are your ultimate guide to avoid sleeplessness and issues related to sleeping pills.