April 22, 2019

Know More About Insomnia, Causes, Symptoms And Types

Insomnia is referred to as the difficulty falling asleep which  could result in day time drowsiness.

Causes of insomnia 

  1. Psychiatric conditions such as depression 
  2. Medical conditions such as hypertension 
  3. Unhealthy sleep habits 
  4. Biological factors 
  5. Unhealthy lifestyles 
  6. Eating pattern 
  7. Underlying sleep disorder 
  8. Sleep apnea
  9. Altered brain function and imbalanced neurotransmitters
  10. Specific substances such as nicotine, alcohol etc.

As earlier stated, medical conditions can cause insomnia and it could be as a result of; nasal or sinus allergies, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism, arthritis, asthma, neurological condition and both acute and chronic low back pain, contraceptives use etc

Underlying sleep disorder  could also cause insomnia such as restless leg syndrome, a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation  of needing to move his or her legs.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person airways becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep and this leads to pauses in breathing and a drop in oxygen level.

Insomnia could also occur as a result of psychiatric condition such as depression and anxiety.

  • Tension, thought about past events, excessive worrying about future events, feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, and a feeling of being over stimulated can lead to insomnia

  • Unhealthy lifestyles and poor sleep habits such as working at home late into late evening, being a shift worker, e drinking of alcohol to compensate for loss of loved ones.

  • Poor eating pattern such as eating heavy meals late at night

Insomnia causes, types and treatment

Types of insomnia 

Acute insomnia: a brief episode of difficulty sleeping usually caused by change in lifestyle events  such as stressful changes in person's job, receiving bad news. Acute insomnia often resolve without any treatment.

Chronic insomnia: a long term pattern of difficulty sleeping. When a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least 3 nights per week for 3 month or longer can be termed chronic insomnia.

Co- morbid insomnia: This is a type of insomnia that occurs with another condition and this could make someone uncomfortable at night.

Onset insomnia: difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night.

Maintenance insomnia: inability to stay asleep. People with maintenance insomnia wakes up during the night and have difficulty returning to sleep.

Primary insomnia: it refers to insomnia where no underlying cause could be identified.

Delayed sleep phase syndrome: affects those who are referred to OR termed 'night owls' and they have long term problems getting to sleep until the early hours of the morning and this can cause a long term sleep deprivation in people who needs to get up early

Recommended  sleep hours by National sleep foundation 

  1. Older adults greater than 65 years: average sleep hours is 7-8 hours 
  2. Adult ( 26-64 years ): an average of 7-9 hours 
  3. Young adult(12-25 years ): 7-9 hours
  4. Teenager (14-17 years): average sleep hours 8-10 hours
  5. School age (6-13 years): average sleep hours is 9-11 years 
  6. Preschool (3-5 years): average sleep hours is 10-13 hours 
  7. Toddler (1-2 years): average sleep hours is 11-14 hours 
  8. Infants (4-11months): average sleep hours is 12-15 hours 
  9. Newborn (0-3 months): average sleep hours is 14-17 hours.

Symptoms and signs of insomnia 

  • Difficulty getting to sleep 
  • Waking up during the night subsequently 
  • Waking up too early 
  • Difficulty in performing normal activities of daily living 
  • Difficulty waking up at normal time 
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue 
  • Forgetfulness and making of errors 
  • Irritable or grumpy moods
  • Tension headaches 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety

Steps that can be take to improve sleep 

  1. Avoid bright lightening and limit possible distractions when about to sleep 
  2. Set up strict sleep rules
  3. Engage self in relaxation exercises 
  4. Adopt the use of cognitive behavioral therapy 
  5. Visit sleep therapists 
  6. Speak to your nurse or doctor about insomnia or difficulty sleeping


Adelusi Kehinde Beatrice is a final year Nursing student at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. She derives pleasure from making impacts via her health write ups and health lectures.

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