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What is Insomnia?

Jeff Petersen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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If you've ever had a long, sleepless night, you've suffered from insomnia. A relatively common occurrence, it affects most people at some time in their life. Insomnia is simply trouble sleeping at night. Being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, or waking multiple times during the night, are symptoms of this condition.

Many different things can cause a person to suffer from insomnia. Things you eat or drink, such as caffeine or alcohol, are common causes. It isn't just stimulants or depressants that can cause difficultly sleeping, though. Eating rich or spicy food before bed is another common trigger.

Some medications can cause insomnia as well. Any type of stimulant is likely to make sleeping difficult. Somewhat surprisingly, some drugs that cause drowsiness can actually cause a person to have trouble sleeping as well. A person may feel tired, but be unable to stay asleep due to restlessness, or may just doze off for short periods of time without getting a full night's sleep.

Stress, worry, anxiety, and pain are common causes of insomnia. A person who is worried at bedtime may have trouble falling asleep. Many people know the frustration of being particularly anxious about something that will happen the next day, only to have trouble getting enough sleep to be ready for it. Children sometimes cannot sleep on Christmas Eve or before an exciting trip because they are looking forward to it so much.

Developing poor sleep habits is another leading cause of insomnia. Spending a lot of time in bed doing activities, reading, drawing, or even working, can make it difficult for a person to change gears when it's time to sleep. Going to sleep and waking up at different times each day can also contribute to the problem.

If you suffer from insomnia, there are a lot of things you can do to try and get to sleep. Practicing regular sleeping habits, such as going to bed at the same time every night and not taking naps during the day, can help. Abstaining from caffeine or alcohol before bed may also help you get a good night's sleep.

If you suffer from insomnia frequently, or it interferes with your life, it's best to consult with a medical professional. He or she can help you pinpoint the causes of your sleep problems and treat those, and may also be able to prescribe medications to help you fall asleep.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jeff Petersen
By Jeff Petersen , Writer
Jeff Petersen is a freelance writer, short story author, and novelist based in Berkeley, California. He earned his B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Creighton University and loves putting his skills to work creating captivating content for The Health Board. Jeff's articles cover a broad range of subjects, keeping readers informed and entertained with his insightful writing style.

Discussion Comments

By anon1003869 — On Sep 25, 2020

Normal sleep is still important to us because normal sleep means you are in good health. So we should still take care of our health.

By motherteresa — On Jan 08, 2009

Some yoga poses might help with insomnia, in particular, inversion poses where the blood has a chance to to get to the head.

This is not recommended though for people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, or any other medical condition where additional pressure in the brain might cause problems.

Jeff Petersen

Jeff Petersen


Jeff Petersen is a freelance writer, short story author, and novelist based in Berkeley, California. He earned his B.A....
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