One of the most common sleep disorders that people seek treatment for is insomnia. In general, people with insomnia complain of difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep. As a result, their daytime functioning is impaired. Additionally, insomnia is often accompanied by both medical and psychiatric disorders. Insomnia is prevalent in older adults and women. It is also commonly seen in jobless people of lower socioeconomic status and have relationship issues such as divorced, separated, or widowed.

Insomnia From a Physiological Standpoint

From a physiological standpoint, people who suffer from insomnia have “biological” activation going on in their bodies and brain. Studies have shown that this activation is present in bodily processes associated with the heart, metabolism, hormones, and even brain activity compared to those without insomnia. This biological activation causes poor sleep, daytime sleepiness/fatigue, and anxiety. From this information, insomnia may be part of a central nervous system problem and not just a “sleep problem.” In some studies, specific parts of the brain are affected by stress and poor-quality sleep.

There are many risk factors and medical conditions that contribute to the cause of insomnia. To successfully treat insomnia, all related conditions need to be treated as well. Some risk factors that can increase the risk of insomnia are older age, female gender, family history of insomnia, and being more easily awakened from sleep.

With All The Other Stuff

Insomnia and psychiatric disorders often coexist with one another. Common psychiatric disorders associated with insomnia include depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients with insomnia are at elevated risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. A widespread problem is grouping them together as one ailment. It can be challenging to distinguish between the two. Often, patients will reject or diminish how much their psychiatric disorder plays a role in their insomnia. For example, they claim that they would not be depressed or have anxiety if they could get some sleep.
Additionally, Providers tend to believe that insomnia is caused by a psychiatric disorder and emphasizes treating the condition hoping insomnia will resolve. However, this not true. Insomnia can continue even if the psychiatric disorder is controlled.

Insomnia and medical conditions also coexist with one another. These include but are not limited to lung disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease, kidney disease, and neurological disorders. In order to treat various medical conditions, medications are prescribed. Unfortunately, these medications can also cause insomnia.

Insomnia can also coincide with other sleep disorders – obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movements, and circadian rhythm disorders. Treating these sleep disorders should help improve insomnia. However, insomnia can still persist and would need to be managed separately.

Insomnia Wrap-up

In conclusion, insomnia is a common sleep disorder. The most common causes of insomnia are life stressors, which can literally be anything. However, people may be predisposed to developing insomnia from a physiological perspective. Insomnia also coexists with psychiatric disorders, medical disorders, medications, and sleep disorders. All of these needs to be addressed to treat insomnia successfully. The good news is that insomnia is a very treatable sleep disorder. This will further be discussed in another post. If you ever have any questions about insomnia you can message us with any questions.