Understanding Insomnia Causes and How to Manage It

Last updated: September 11th, 2023

Understanding Insomnia and its Causes

Insomnia can be a troubling and frustrating condition, especially when you are unable to find the root cause behind it. However, it’s important to remember that insomnia isn’t something you just have to put up with or struggle with. It’s a condition that can be managed with the right approach.

So what causes it, and how can you best manage it? For starters, it is important to note that the causes of insomnia can range from stress to lifestyle choices to medications. Women, older adults, and those with a family history of insomnia are more likely to experience it. It’s also possible to experience insomnia due to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorders.


We all experience stress from time to time, but for some, persistent stress can lead to difficulty sleeping. The more you struggle to fall asleep, the more elusive sleep can become, and it can quickly create a vicious cycle. Stress can trigger the release of stress hormones that can interfere with sleep and overall elevated cortisol of cortisol levels, especially at night, can be a factor in some cases of insomnia.

If you experience insomnia due to stress, it is important to note that, in many cases, the issues may eventually resolve on their own when the stressful event ends. There are also tools and strategies you can utilize to cope with anxiety and enhance sleep.

Lifestyle Habits

Your lifestyle habits – such as late-night workouts, late-night meals, consuming caffeine too close to bedtime, working nights, or rotating shifts – can all take a toll on your sleep. All of these things can interfere with your body’s natural sleep/wake cycles, and can make it hard to experience restful sleep.

Unfortunately, some of these lifestyle habits may be hard to change. If your job or lifestyle makes it hard to alter some of these habits, there are still a few strategies you can use to try to minimize the impact of lifestyle habits on your sleep.

Mental Health Challenges

Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression may be linked to insomnia. Even having a family history of insomnia can increase your risk for developing insomnia. Studies show that anywhere from 30-80% of people with mental health disorders have difficulties with sleep.

In some cases, the sleep issues are related to or caused by the mental health disorder, and this can be a very complex issue to manage. In other cases, mental health issues and sleep issues can be two separate, yet intertwined, issues. It’s important to look more closely at what’s causing the sleep issues to get to the root of the problem.


Illnesses and physical conditions can impact your sleep in a negative way. Anyone dealing with conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, chronic headaches, and chronic pain may find it difficult to get restful sleep. Pain can also make it hard to go back to sleep after waking.

In many cases, treatment for the underlying health condition can provide some relief. But for others, pain management may be necessary, and this can include OTC medications, prescription medications, or other methods such as tapping or meditation.


Certain medications can cause sleep disturbances, including medications taken for asthma, depression, hypertension, and allergies. Medications can interfere with your normal wake/sleep cycles, disrupt your sleep patterns, and more.

Medication-induced insomnia is a real thing, and if you find your medications are causing sleep problems, talk to your doctor. Sometimes, it’s possible to adjust your doses or switch medications to minimize the negative effects on your sleep.

Managing Insomnia

Regardless of the underlying cause of your insomnia, it’s important to remember that sleep is a critical part of good brain and body health. Sleep deprivation can lead to physical and mental health issues over time, so it’s crucial to find strategies and methods to help you manage the condition.

When looking to manage your insomnia, it is important to take an approach that addresses any underlying cause first, but it is also important to focus on overall lifestyle changes. This can include seeking out treatment for a mental health disorder or physical condition, developing positive sleep habits, and smarter lifestyle choices. Additionally, there are aids such as anti-snoring mouthpieces and CPAP machines that can help you get the restful sleep you need.

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