Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Types & More

What Is Insomnia?

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? If you have trouble remembering, it’s probably been a long time since you got enough restful slumber. One of the main reasons behind this erratic sleep pattern may be insomnia. Although it is a common sleep disorder, over time, insomnia can lead to many health issues.

Difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, or having issues staying asleep are signs of insomnia. This sleeping disorder may also cause health problems such as hypertension, weight gain, diabetes, and others. However, some lifestyle and behavioral changes can help improve your sleep, and sometimes, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and sleeping pills also work.

You need to get enough rest for your body to function well throughout the day. Therefore, understanding the different types of insomnia, its causes and symptoms, treatment options, and more will help you deal with the problem better.

Different Types Of Insomnia

You can measure the intensity or the depth of your insomnia by understanding the level of sleep irregularities that you currently face. Generally, insomnia gets categorized into two types: Primary Insomnia (short-term) and Secondary Insomnia (chronic).

Depending on how long your sleep inconsistencies last, the doctors can diagnose your insomnia accordingly and share the correct treatment methods for the same. Remember, a proper diagnosis is as important as its therapy.

1. Primary Insomnia
Short-term or primary insomnia tends to last for only a few days or weeks and gets triggered by stress primarily.

2. Secondary Insomnia
In the case of secondary insomnia or chronic insomnia, the sleep difficulties last for three months or longer and occur at least three times a week.

Therefore, before diagnosing the condition, the need to identify the symptoms and causes of insomnia deems necessary, especially for its treatment.

Insomnia: Symptoms

Every disorder, including sleep, gets characterized by various symptoms that help the doctors reach the root of the problem and eventually assist in its treatment. Every kind of impairment caused due to sleep difficulties can associate itself with the symptoms of insomnia.

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night: Whether it’s bedtime or much after that, people with insomnia find it hard to fall asleep, causing irritability and stress the next day.
  • Waking up during the night: Most people with insomnia sleep light, therefore, waking up at odd hours and then finding it hard to fall asleep again.
  • Waking up too early: Since falling asleep is a task, those with insomnia wake up way too early.
  • Not feeling well-rested after sleep: Difficulty falling asleep results in fatigue the next day as the body and mind have not received the rest they need every night to function well the next day.
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness: Since sleep is hard to come by at night, you will find people with insomnia feeling tired or sleepy during the day.
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety: One of the primary symptoms of insomnia, you cannot ignore the feeling of depression or anxiety. Immediate medical help eases your mental health, thus working on curing your insomnia as well.
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering: Each body and mind needs rest, and insomnia does not allow that, thus making it difficult to pay attention to tasks at hand.
  • Increased errors or accidents: Drowsiness or lack of attention may result in errors or accidents that could easily get done otherwise.
  • Ongoing worries about sleep: Anxiety related to not being able to fall asleep results in sleep difficulties as well.

While these are some of the symptoms associated with insomnia, understanding the causes behind this sleep disorder might help you deal with it better.

Insomnia: Causes

1. Causes Of Primary Insomnia
As you already know, primary or short-term insomnia lasts for a few days or weeks, and the primary cause is stress. These stressors can include environmental factors as well as physiological or psychological factors.

An unhealthy lifestyle and erratic sleep habits can contribute to this sleep disorder and disrupt your everyday functioning for the near future.

Stress: Stressful situations or environment poses a challenge to quality sleep. Whether it’s work, studies, or relationships, stress can induce sleep problems, causing insomnia and other health issues.

Sleep Irregularities: An irregular sleep cycle can disrupt your body’s internal clock, thus disturbing sleep. An unbalanced circadian rhythm and insomnia result in inadequate sleep quality and timings.

Lifestyle: Your diet often gets overlooked when it comes to sleep disorders like insomnia. However, it plays a pivotal role in maintaining or disrupting your overall sleep quality. On the other hand, the intake of alcohol or caffeine can negatively affect your sleep, potentially putting you at risk of developing insomnia.

2. Causes Of Secondary Insomnia
Secondary insomnia or chronic insomnia affects your sleep for a long time and can take months to years before it becomes regular. Underlying health problems, traumatic experiences, high dosage medications, neurological issues, or even age can cause sleep disorders like chronic insomnia.

When it comes to curing insomnia or improving the overall sleep quality, understanding the underlying causes of secondary insomnia help tailor the treatment process and improve your rest.

Mental Health Disorders: Those already facing anxiety or depression, among other mental health issues, tend to have negative thoughts clouding their mind. These thoughts can disturb sleep, causing further anxiety or depression.

Physical Illnesses: If you have any physical illness that causes pain, it can get hard to live with every day. Every time you twist or turn during sleep, the discomfort can result in disturbances. Other health complications like Type II diabetes can result in insomnia and other sleep disorders like sleep apnea as well.

Medications: Any blood pressure drugs, anti-asthma medications, or antidepressants can throw off one’s sleep schedule, resulting in disrupted sleep patterns and the inability to fall asleep at proper hours.

After determining the root cause of insomnia, whether primary or secondary, the treatment process can begin after a detailed diagnosis and examination of the problem.

Insomnia: Diagnosis

While there isn’t a specific test that determines the cause of insomnia, a simple physical test and routine questions about your sleep patterns can help diagnose the condition and eventually determine its treatment. The vital information needed for the doctor to diagnose your sleep disorder is to understand your sleep and medical history, as it helps review your condition and find out the factors affecting it.

In a nutshell, you might have to get a blood test done to check for any underlying health conditions, maintain a diary to write down your sleep patterns, and complete a sleep study to reach the root of the problem.

Insomnia: Treatment

The treatment for insomnia begins with a proper diagnosis of your sleep and medical history. While short-term or primary insomnia usually gets better on its own, chronic or secondary insomnia needs external help.

The inability to get a good night’s sleep can hamper your overall health. Therefore, getting yourself treated for the persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, or quality at the earliest can help nip the problem in the bud sooner rather than later.

To manage insomnia and help you sleep better, your doctor or healthcare provider will suggest the following treatments:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is the first line of treatment for insomnia with a structured intervention that helps you identify and replace disturbing thoughts with positive ones. It helps reach the root of the problem and addresses the underlying causes of insomnia as a treatment approach.

Medications: While CBT is a long-term solution for sleep disorders like insomnia, sleeping pills can help you sleep as a short-term alternative. However, it helps with short-term insomnia and isn’t the preferred method of treatment for chronic insomnia.

Insomnia: Complications

Physical and mental health can both get affected because of insomnia and vice versa. Therefore, inadequate sleep quality and lack of sleep are only the primary symptoms of this sleep disorder.

Insomnia can lead to issues such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Injuries and accidents (due to drowsiness)
  • Hypertension, heart disease, or stroke
  • Mental health disorders
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Asthma and other respiratory problems
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammations and weakened immune system
  • Pregnancy-related complications

These risks can alter the way you function in your daily life and can get cumbersome to deal with for an extended period. Therefore, if you notice any symptoms related to insomnia or other sleep disorder, consult your doctor or healthcare provider immediately for guided assistance.

Insomnia: Risk Factors

Everyone does not get affected with insomnia or other sleep disorders. However, the risk of insomnia increases if you fall under any of the following categories:

  • You’re a woman – Hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle or in menopause may cause night sweats and hot flashes, thus disrupting sleep. Insomnia is also common during pregnancy.
  • Age above 60 years – Due to changes in sleep patterns and overall health, insomnia increases with age.
  • Mental health disorder or physical illness – If your overall health isn’t at its peak, it can disrupt sleep.
  • Stressful environment – Stress can cause temporary insomnia, and long-term stress can lead to chronic insomnia.
  • Irregular schedule – Changing shifts or jet lag can disrupt your sleep cycle.

Which Doctor Treats Insomnia?

If self-help techniques fail to work, you need to schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist as it can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being. Make sure you provide your doctor with as much information as possible related to your sleep patterns, your work timings, your overall lifestyle, and other details as requested.

Insomnia Cure: Home Remedies For Insomnia

Adopting an adequate lifestyle and sleep habits will help you steer clear of insomnia. If in the initial stage, where you find it difficult to fall asleep, the following remedies may work for you.

  • Keeping your bedtime and wake time consistent, even on weekends.
  • Staying active with regular physical activity helps promote a good night’s sleep.
  • Avoiding or limiting nap time during the day.
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake and avoid nicotine altogether.
  • Avoiding large meals and aerated beverages before bedtime.
  • Making your bedroom comfortable for sleep.
  • Creating a soothing bedtime ritual like taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to soft music.

Insomnia Prevention: How To Deal With Insomnia?

The prevention of insomnia is similar to home remedies. The fundamental approach in dealing with insomnia is to help you sleep better. Considering that, you can follow the below mentioned preventive tips that may help improve your bedtime routine.

  • Avoid large meals, caffeine or caffeinated drink, and alcohol before you hit the sack.
  • Regular physical activity, preferably outside during the day, can help you sleep better.
  • Avoid coffee, sodas, and chocolate altogether, and especially at night.
  • Cut down your screen time by putting away your smartphones, TVs, and laptops at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Quit smoking as it hampers your sleep pattern.
  • Make sure your bedroom remains a calm and quiet sanctuary for you to retreat.

Difference: Sleep Deprivation And Insomnia?

Sleep deprivation may not always fall under an everyday occurrence. Due to either your lifestyle or your work habits, the chances of sleep deprivation may increase. However, it won’t be every day that you find yourself sitting through the night on your laptop or computer.

Insomnia, on the other hand, has more far-reaching consequences than lack of sleep. It could lead to grave health problems, both mental and physical. Moreover, the factors causing insomnia are plenty, and the inability to fall or stay asleep every day can last for days, weeks, months, or years together.

Although the symptoms may overlap, sleep deprivation may occur for a few days at the most but, insomnia can last for weeks or months unless treated on time.

Insomnia FAQs

You might have plenty of questions related to insomnia or understanding the severity of the problem. Therefore, for you to gauge the issue better and find answers, here are the most frequently asked questions.

1. Can intermittent fasting cause insomnia?
If you do it right, intermittent fasting may not cause insomnia as it causes melatonin levels to rise in your body, promoting sleep. However, if you skip meals altogether, you might go to sleep hungry, which could ruin your rest. If you do this regularly, it could eventually lead to a sleep disorder for which you might need treatment. So, avoid eating or sleep irregularities that may cause insomnia.

2. Is chronic insomnia a disability?
Ideally, insomnia may not get classified as a disability. However, several countries around the world have different health codes, and in some of those nations, it can get termed as a disability. The reason behind it is that it could hamper the physical and mental well-being of a person, thus affecting their ability to perform day-to-day tasks.

3. Can dieting cause insomnia?
The consumption of unhealthy foods or foods that contain saturated fats and less fiber can lead to light sleep. Therefore, your food choices affect the way you sleep. If you continue eating foods that disrupt your sleep pattern, it could eventually lead to a sleep disorder that you could have avoided. So, eat lighter and healthier meals that promote good sleep.

4. Does acupuncture help insomnia?
Acupuncture treatment is usually associated with treating stress-related health problems. Since one of the primary causes of insomnia remains stress, the ability of acupuncture in relieving stress may act as a trigger in treating insomnia as well. The healthier you and your body feels, the better sleep you can get. Therefore, according to some studies, acupuncture may help treat insomnia to a great extent.

5. Can antibiotics cause insomnia?
Specific types of antibiotics, in some cases, may lead to disrupted sleep cycles, thus resulting in insomnia. However, the only way to find out whether your insomnia is related to antibiotics is to reach out to a doctor or a sleep specialist who can diagnose your problem and accordingly administer treatment.

When To See A Doctor For Insomnia?

When you find it hard to concentrate or have memory issues, it’s time to reach out to your doctor or sleep specialist who can address the problem. Other symptoms might include extreme fatigue, anxiety, depression, or irritability, and over three months of sleep problems that have caused you distress.

Additionally, make sure you ask your doctor the right questions concerning insomnia. Whether it’s making lifestyle changes or taking the right medications, or other therapies that might help you sleep better, the more questions you ask, the better it gets to deal with the problem. Factoring in aspects of your life that interfere with your sleep patterns is the first step to dealing with insomnia. Therefore, see a doctor immediately if you notice any insomnia-related symptoms.


Remember, insomnia isn’t the only sleep disorder. You will find many sleep-related issues as frequent as sleep deprivation leading up to the most acute ones. However, the severity or complexity of insomnia depends on the symptoms and causes. Determining either will help the doctor get to the root of the problem and tailor your treatment accordingly.

As significant as treatment goes, a proper diagnosis is equally essential, if not more. The only way to find a solution to your sleep disorder is to check for any underlying health issues, medications that may cause insomnia, or lifestyle habits that could hamper your sleep patterns. Sometimes, sleeping pills help treat primary or short-term insomnia. However, it is not the go-to solution for those dealing with chronic insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps alter your thoughts into positive habits, thus reaching the primary cause of insomnia and tackling it on a long-term basis.

So, if you’re finding it hard to fall asleep, wake up much too early, deal with sleep irregularities daily, and have done so for many months, it’s about time you find yourself a sleep specialist that can help you deal with insomnia.

With Aims Healthcare’s Doctor-on-Call Service in Dubai, you will find yourself in qualified hands and get the best possible treatment for your problem in the comfort of your home or office. Therefore, for personalized medical care, comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and after-care therapy exclusively at your doorstep, contact us at +971 505 136 505 or fill this enquiry form and one of our dedicated team members will contact you at the earliest.

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