Insomnia literally means inability to sleep. In medical terms it refers to a specific
sleeping disorder which robs the sufferer of his sleeping ability due to which he
can neither fall asleep naturally nor stay asleep. So difficulty related to initiating or
maintaining sleep would be referred to as insomnia.
Based on the duration of sleeping problem, insomnia is classified into three types:
transient, acute, and chronic.
1. Transient insomnia is the inability to sleep for a period of less than a week. Among
its causes, physical disorders, sleep timing, environmental problems, severe depression,
and stress are significant.
2. Acute insomnia is similar to transient insomnia in terms of causes; however, the
distinct feature of this type is that it lasts more than a week and less than a month.
3. Chronic insomnia, as the name itself implies, lasts for a longer period of time,
from months to years. Its causes may include muscular fatigue, hallucinations, or
psychological fatigue. Chronic disorder is not only the offshoot of various causes but
itself causes many psychological problems such as double vision in which a person
blends moving objects together and cannot decipher any difference among them.
Causes of Insomnia
Quite a large number of causes are believed to cause insomnia. We can classify these
causes into three categories: physiological; psychological; and medical. Besides,
it is pertinent to separately highlight the causes of transient insomnia because our
classification of three categories is mainly related to chronic insomnia, not short term
Causes of Short Term Insomnia
The general causes of short term insomnia include change in the routine of shift work,
unpleasant noise, abnormal room temperature, stressful situations in life like joblessness or
divorce, presence of an acute physical ailment, hospitalization, and withdrawal from drug,
alcohol and sedative stimulants.
Physiological Causes of Chronic Insomnia
There are physical disorders that aggravate the affected person’s state of mind by robbing
even his sleep. The most significant among these include long term pain syndromes,
chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, night time angina, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, asthma with night time breathing symptoms, and brain tumor.
Psychological Causes of Chronic Insomnia
Anxiety, depression, stress, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are often regarded as the
major psychological causes of chronic insomnia. All of these causes are strongly linked
with insomnia; though all are interrelated but they do individually deprive a person of his
Medications Leading to Insomnia
Some medications used to treat asthma, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and
schizophrenia contain some chemicals that disturb a person’s normal sleeping routine. In
addition to these causes, caffeine and nicotine, alcohol or periodic leg movements may
also impair the ability of a person to have a good night sleep.
Is insomnia treatable?
Of course insomnia is treatable but the tricky thing for a physician is to figure out
the exact factors that are taking their toll on a person’s night rest. Environmental
modifications or changing one’s habits can resolve the problem to a greater extent. In
a similar way prescription sleep pills and cognitive behavioral therapy can also prove
effective to treat insomnia. However, if insomnia is associated with some physiological
or psychological disorder, the clinician will have to nip the disorder in the bud for the
resolution of insomniac problem.
When should a patient Consult doctor?
In case insomnia is transient due to situational changes, he is to modify his work routine
and try to get out of troubling environment. However, if it stretches to last more than a
week, he should consult his physician so that he can trace the actual causes of insomnia
and treat it accordingly.