Insomnia and Sleeplessness: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

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Insomnia and Sleeplessness: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

If you don’t fall asleep for a long time, like days at a stretch, it causes serious mental health issues like psychosis and hallucinations.


What is Sleeplessness?


Sleeplessness is a state of being unable to fall asleep. Sleep is very important to sustain life. Sleeplessness can cause sickness, nausea, irritability, and rare conditions, resulting in death.

Regular and sound sleep is very important for your body to function well. It is what a charge is to your mobile phone and what a battery is to your remote control.

Restlessness, irritability, headache, dysfunction and absent-mindedness are some side effects of not being able to sleep properly.

There can be many reasons that you might not be able to sleep. Sleeping disorders are something you must not neglect.


What are sleeping disorders?


What are sleeping disorders

When your sleeplessness persists for more than a week or two and the effect of sleepless worsens your metabolism and routine, Then that state of sleeplessness is referred to as sleeping disorders or sleep disorders.

Being unable to sleep for a short period like a day or two is comparatively normal but if you cannot, sleep for days at a stretch, many symptoms can be observed when there are sleeping disorders.


Symptoms of sleep disorders:


Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

The symptoms of sleep disorders are similar to the ones of sleeplessness. These may include:


  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Indigestion
  • Muscle ache or tension
  • Feeling restless
  • Craving for naps during the day
  • Less concentration or reduced interest
  • Poor memory or forgetfulness
  • Easily irritated or annoyed
  • The decline in attention span

What are the causes of sleeping disorders?


What are the causes of sleeping disorders

The causes can be studied as physical, psychological, genetically, situational, age, medical, etc.


Physical causes


Body aches are the major causes of sleeplessness and sleeping disorders. It is generally observed in aged people. 

Chronic back pain, ulcers, migraines, chronic headaches, injuries, wounds etc. are few examples of physical causes of sleeping disorders.

Sometimes allergies, conditions such as asthma and other respiratory issues cause sleeping disorders.

Women are prone to sleeping disorders due to hormonal imbalances during pregnancy, periods or due to Pre mensuration syndrome (PMS)


Psychological causes


Few mental conditions result in sleep disorders. Anxiety disorders, depression disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc.,  disturb sleep.


Genetically causes


Sleeping disorders can be the result of heredity or genes. It can be inherited as a gene. For example, Narcolepsy is a genetically inherited sleeping disorder. 

Situational causes


Alcoholism is a situational cause of sleeplessness or sleeping disorders. As an outcome of substance misuse or alcoholic abuse, people may develop sleeping disorders.

Financial lows, problems in relationships, death of beloved etc. are also some situational causes of sleeping disorders.


Age causes


People reaching 65 years of age are prone to sleeping disorders. It might be due to physical aches or other reasons. But it is observed that people in their older phase of life lack sleep.


Medical causes


Some medications or some course of medicines might intrude with the sleeping patterns. So when people are under certain medical enforcement, they are subjected to sleeplessness and/or sleep disorders.

Other causes


There are many other causes like frequent urges for urination which may be due to persisting allergy infection, nightmares, anxiety, stress, worry, anxiousness or excitement of an important day ahead etc.


Different types of sleeping disorders


There are different types of sleeping disorders. Few of these disorders are a result of medical or other causes listed above.



Insomnia (2)

This is the most common sleep disorder among varied age groups. It is a state where people face trouble sleeping at night. This may be due to anxiousness, stress or other health conditions related to respiration or digestion.

It may often lead to lethargic days and weight gain. In children, it may make them lazy and might also affect their performance in academics and school. In elders, it causes stress and interferes with daily routine functions.

Depression is another outcome of insomnia. People with insomnia are prone to depression with a high probability.

If insomnia persists for a long interval of time, it might result in illnesses or mental health issues. Also, those with any illness, injuries or mental health issues are prone to insomnia. So one might cause another.

If you want to prevent insomnia, then you must mend your sleeping habits. A hygienic room is mandatory. Fixing a time to sleep as a routine, stopping the use of phones or other electronic gadgets before sleep time will help a long way.

Exercise is also advisable, but heavy workouts are not. It is better that you finish up with exercise in the early evenings or the mornings. If you practice before a few hours of going to bed, then it may lead to staying awake.

Acute insomnia that might keep you awake for a day or two is not as serious as chronic insomnia that lasts around a week or a month or longer.

Usage of caffeine and alcohol must be cut to make it easier.


Sleep Apnea


Sleep APnea

Sleep Apnea is a serious condition, it involves the feeling of lack of breath in between sleep. People with sleep apnea wake up in breathlessness amid their sleep. As it cuts down the oxygen level of the body, it is rather serious and must be addressed.

The symptoms may include swallowing difficulty, weakness or tiredness, differences in speech or voice modulation. Typically, those with Sleep apnea lose and gain breath in different and indefinite intervals.


Sleep Apnea can be categorized in three forms:


1)  Obstructive Sleep Apnea


In this condition, the throat muscles of the subject relax, causing an interruption in their breathing cycle.

It is caused due to obesity, thicker neck region, old age, alcoholism and smoking. 

2) Central Sleep Apnea

In this condition, the brain, which is supposed to master all the functions of the body during both sleep and awakeness, does not send the nervous signals properly which might lead to obstruction of breathing function. 

It is caused due to old age, heart-related health issues, consumption of sedatives or narcotic painkillers or pain relievers.


3) Complex Sleep Apnea

In this condition, people are observed to have both variants of Sleep Apnea. This can be caused due to old age, obesity, smoking, consumption of sedatives or narcotic painkillers or pain relievers.




It is a condition under which people have problems with sleeping and waking up. It is a chronic condition, though it is not deadly. People with narcolepsy have trouble managing their day due to several urges for sleep. They make turn out to be poor in school or office as they are often bothered by sleepiness.

Though it is not deadly by itself, it has severe consequences of accidents or injuries due to recurring episodes. Age factors and genetic or family history of narcolepsy have greater influence in suffering from narcolepsy.

You can take medications and make certain prescribed changes in your lifestyle for the treatment of narcolepsy.


Coping up from Sleeping disorders


It is not impossible to prevent or cope up with sleeping disorders or sleeplessness. There are two main areas to focus upon when you what to have better nights. 

There are different treatments based upon the underlying disorder or reason for sleeplessness. They include modifications in lifestyle and taking some medications.

Depending on the cause, you must take medications as per the prescriptions. When it comes to the lifestyle, it includes:


  • The setting of the room
  • Hygienic and well-maintained bed
  • Going to bed at the same time regularly
  • Limiting bedroom to sleeping only
  • Eating fresh food with lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding junk and spicy food
  • Cut down or reduce having carbs for dinners
  • Avoid drinking lots of water before sleep
  • Exercise well, but do not overdo, especially before bedtime.




It is very essential that one must get a healthy sleep to maintain their lifestyle. It is important that one seeks help in case they have facing sleeplessness for a long time.

Sruthi Somanchi

Sruthi Somanchi

|| Psychology student with Journalism, and English literature || mental health advisor || Enthusiastic writer and poetess||