Secondary InsomniaSecondary insomnia is the symptom or side effect of another problem. This type of insomnia often is a symptom of an emotional, neurological, or other medical or sleep disorder.
Emotional disorders that can cause insomnia include depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease are examples of neurological disorders that can cause insomnia.
Many other disorders or factors also can cause insomnia, such as:
- Conditions that cause chronic (ongoing) pain, such as arthritis and headache disorders
- Conditions that make it hard to breathe, such as asthma and heart failure
- An overactive thyroid
- Gastrointestinal disorders, such as heartburn
- Sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep-related breathing problems
- Menopause and hot flashes
Commonly used substances also can cause insomnia. Examples include caffeine and other stimulants, tobacco and other nicotine products, and alcohol and other sedatives.
Primary InsomniaPrimary insomnia isn't a symptom or side effect of another medical condition. It is its own distinct disorder, and its cause isn’t well understood. Primary insomnia usually lasts for at least 1 month.
Many life changes can trigger primary insomnia. It may be due to major or long-lasting stress or emotional upset. Travel or other factors, such as work schedules that disrupt your sleep routine, also may trigger primary insomnia.
Even if these issues are resolved, the insomnia may not go away. Trouble sleeping can persist because of habits formed to deal with the lack of sleep. These habits might include taking naps, worrying about sleep, and going to bed early.
Researchers continue to try to find out whether some people are born with an increased risk for primary insomnia.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Insomnia is a common disorder. It affects women more often than men. The disorder can occur at any age. However, older adults are more likely to have insomnia than younger people.
People who might be at increased risk for insomnia include those who:
- Have a lot of stress.
- Are depressed or have other emotional distress, such as divorce or death of a spouse.
- Have lower incomes.
- Work at night or have frequent major shifts in their work hours.
- Travel long distances with time changes.
- Have certain medical conditions or sleep disorders that can disrupt sleep. For more information, go to "What Causes Insomnia?"
- Have an inactive lifestyle.