What is Insomnia?

Almost everyone at one time or another has some trouble falling asleep and staying asleep due to stress, too much caffeine or alcohol. But, if you find that you can’t fall asleep and every so often wake up feeling groggy and tired you may be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is condition characterized by frequent difficulties with falling asleep and staying asleep. Long periods of sleepless nights can lower your energy level and darken your mood, as well as weaken your immune system. Insomnia can also affect a person’s mental alertness and concentration, which may lead to accidents on the road and at work.

How Prevalent is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common condition that can last for a short period of time or for a long period of time. Insomnia affects as many as one out of every 10 Americans chronically, and one in every four Americans temporarily. This doesn’t mean you have to put up with the sleepless nights. You can try making a few simple changes in your daily routine and habits to achieve a good night of rest. Some simple changes may include avoiding or reducing the amount of nicotine, alcohol and caffeine you consume and focusing on staying active and healthy.

Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

Some signs and symptoms of insomnia may include:

  • Problems falling asleep at night
  • Frequently waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Feeling fatigue or sleepy during the day
  • Easily irritated


Insomnia can result from a number of causes. Some of these causes include:

  • Stress: Fretting about work, family, and health can keep your mind alert, even when you’re trying to sleep. Insomnia can also come from the prolonged feeling of boredom that may come after retirement or while recovering from a long illness and may also cause bouts of stress and keep you from your beauty sleep.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety that occurs daily or that results from severe anxiety disorder can keep you from your 8 hours of bliss every night.
  • Depression: You may sleep too much or not enough if you’re depressed. This is because of chemical imbalances in your brain or because of stress that’s associated with depression.  These may keep you from a restful night of sleep.
  • Stimulants: Stimulants found in prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and in weight-loss products may make you feel groggy, and also cause you to urinate frequently during the nights, disrupting your sleep patterns.
  • Change in your environment or work schedule: If you travel or start working an early morning or a late shift a work, you may experience difficulties falling asleep. This is because these changes affect your body’s circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythm acts as internal clocks, and guides our bodies through our sleeping patterns.
  • Eating too much and too late in the evening: Consuming a small snack before bed is OK, but indulging on chocolate covered coffee beans after eating a late dinner, is not. This is because eating too much too late may cause you to feel uncomfortable and keep you awake. You may also experience heartburn if you lie down soon after a meal. Foods and drinks containing stimulants like caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided during the evenings.

To find out how to treat insomnia read our article on How to Treat Insomnia.

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