Specialty Behavioral Health

What causes insomnia?

Sleep can be disrupted by an infinite number of stressful events. Almost everyone has occasional insomnia due a stressful event such as the death of a loved one. Some people can have more frequent insomnia and develop a sleep disorder called Primary Insomnia. Anybody can get insomnia, but certain groups of people tend to be more at risk such as women and older people. A troubling period of insomnia that continues for more than a few days usually has a combination of underlying causes.

The most common causes to consider are:

  • Ongoing worry and anxiety about situations
  • Life stressors (stressful relationships, work, law suits, discrimination)
  • A predisposition to be more aroused (physically and/or mentally)
  • Medical problems
  • Psychiatric problems
  • Substances
  • Factors in the sleep environment (bed, bed partner, noise, light)
  • Unhealthy sleep patterns
  • Negative attitudes about sleep

For a detailed diagram showing the development of chronic vs. temporary insomnia, look at Insomnia PDF’s.