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What Causes Insomnia and Who Suffers From It?

Rich Benvin -- Having information on possible causes of insomnia, as well as knowing who may be at risk of suffering this sleeping disorder, makes it possible to avoid or minimize this annoying, and potentially debilitating, condition.

It is commonplace for several people to suffer at least an occasional night of almost non-existent sleep. The causes of insomnia differ from person to person. What made a student insomniac varies from what caused a shift worker or a traveler or an employee to acquire such sleeping disorder.

Insomnia, which is the inability to sleep satisfactorily or to have any sleep at all, is one of the most common sleep disorders. It is characterized by restlessness, sleep interruptions, decreased sleeping time than the usual, or sometimes complete wakefulness.

Aside from the annoyance that insomnia can cause to its sufferers, this sleep disorder causes those afflicted to lose enthusiasm and energy, acquire memory and concentration problems, feel lethargic, frustrated, and of course sleepy. Worse cases that may be induced by insomnia is one's being prone to accidents, reduced work productivity, and the aggravation of psychological and medical conditions.

So what exactly are the culprits that make insomnia one menacing sleeping problem?

1. Emotional Distress

More particularly when it is from internalized anxiety or anger, emotional problems can easily trigger this sleep disorder.

2. Substance Abuse

Drinking too much coffee, colas, or other "energy-upper drinks" is known to cause insomnia. Caffeine from these drinks is the main reason. Chain smokers can also be easy victims of insomnia because of the nicotine that cigarettes contain. Additionally, herbal remedies, alcohol, and other medications can make one prone to becoming an insomniac. Some may think that alcohol, when consumed, can make one feel drowsy. But little do they know that in the long run, when the alcohol gets metabolized, sudden wakefulness will follow.

3. Biological Clock Disturbance

Also known as circadian rhythm, one's body clock, when altered, can damage the amount of sleep one can peacefully enjoy. This body clock disturbance can be caused by an irregular slumber schedule due to too much siesta or partying too late at night. It can also be brought on by jetlag or body clock disturbance due to traveling by plane to some place where there is a different time zone. Other causes may be the grave yard schedules of workers, and exam cramming for students.

4. Environmental Factors

Extreme temperatures can disrupt one's sleeping patterns. Noise and bright lights can have the same effect, as well. Homesickness or when one is forced to sleep in an unfamiliar place are also reasons behind getting into the habit of not having enough sleep.

5. Health Problems

Health disorders such as diabetes, heart failure, hyperthyroidism, ulcers, and Parkinson's disease can induce insomnia. Asthma may also be one health problem that makes one prone to insomnia because it causes shortness of breath. Frequent urination, heartburn, and chronic pain from leg cramps, tooth ache, and arthritis can cause insomnia.

Psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and depression are also possible culprits for insomnia. Snoring with prolonged pauses in breathing while asleep, also known as sleep apnea, can cause insomnia. Periodic arm and leg movements during sleep that cause muscles to twitch excessively is yet another underlying cause of this sleep disorder. Another source is narcolepsy, or one's lack of control to stay awake or to fall asleep.

6. Pre-bedtime Activities

Engaging in vigorous activities such as exercise just before bedtime can deprive one of a good night's sleep, as can consuming large meals immediately prior to sleeping; when metabolism is at its most active, it prompts one to stay awake.

Who is Prone to Insomnia?

Reports have it that 90% of people can acquire transient insomnia at some point in their lives. An estimated 30% suffer from it chronically.

a. Women are said to be more at risk in acquiring insomnia because of the following reasons:

-- Pre-menstrual syndrome with symptoms of irritability, depression, anxiety, and bloating disturb a woman's sleeping pattern.
-- Menopause can also change a woman's sleeping pattern.
-- Pregnancy is a common cause for sleeplessness.

b. Elderly people are also prone to insomnia because aging alters one's sleep patterns.

c. Depressed people have lighter slumbers compared to those who don't experience this psychological condition.

d. Students who are concerned with their grades (and/or cram for tests) can also easily become insomniacs.

Having information on possible causes of insomnia, as well as knowing who may be at risk of suffering this sleeping disorder, makes it possible to avoid or minimize this annoying, and possibly debilitating, condition.

Rich Benvin is the Web master for, an online directory of health and medication information and advertising portal connecting customers to some of the largest and most reliable online pharmaceutical ordering services in the U.S and in Canada.

© 2007 Rich Benvin

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