Insomnia can be caused by physical factors as well as psychological factors. There is often an underlying medical condition that causes chronic insomnia, while transient insomnia may be due to a recent event or occurrence. Insomnia is commonly caused by:
- Disruptions in circadian rhythm– jet lag, job shift changes, high altitudes, environmental noise, heat, or cold.
- Psychological issues– people with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, or psychotic disorders are more likely to have insomnia.
- Medical conditions– brain lesions and tumors, stroke, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, congestive heart failure, angina, acid-reflux disease (GERD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, sleep apnea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, hyperthyroidism, arthritis.
- Hormones– estrogen, hormone shifts during menstruation.
- Other factors– sleeping next to a snoring partner, parasites, genetic conditions, overactive mind, pregnancy.
- Media technology in the bedroom– researchers from the University of Helsinki, Finland, reported in the journal BMC Public Health that media technology in the bedroom disrupts sleep patterns in children. They found that children with TVs, computers, video games, DVD players, and mobile phones in their bedrooms slept considerably less than kids without these devices in their bedrooms. In addition, a study conducted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that back-lit tablet computers can affect sleep patterns.
Medications – according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the following medications can cause insomnia in some patients:
- Corticosteroids– used for treating patients with allergic reactions, gout, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammation of the muscles and blood vessels. Examples include prednisone, triamcinolone, methylprednisolone, and cortisone.
- Statins– medications used for treating high cholesterol levels. Examples include simvastatin, rosuvastatin, lovastatin, and atorvastatin.
- Alpha blockers– used for treating hypertension, Raynaud’s disease and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). Examples include terazosin, silodosin, alfuzosin, prazosin, doxazosin, and tamsulosin.
- Beta blockers– used for treating hypertension and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias). Examples include carvedilol, propranolol, atenolol, metoprolol, and sotalol.
- SSRI antidepressants– used for treating depression. Examples include fluoxetine, citalopram, paroxetine, escitalopram, and sertraline.
- ACE inhibitors– used for the treatment of hypertension and other heart conditions. Examples include ramipril, fosinopril, benazepril, enalapril, lisinopril, and captopril.
- ARBs (Angiotensin II-receptor blockers)– used for treatment of hypertension (generally when patient cannot tolerate ACE inhibitors). Examples include candesartan, valsartan, and losartan.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors– used for treating memory loss and other symptoms in patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Examples include rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine.
- Second generation (non-sedating) H1 agonists– used for treating allergic reactions. Examples include loratadine, levocetirizine, desloratadine, and cetirizine.
- Glucosamine/chondroitin– dietary supplements used for relieving the symptoms of joint pain and to reduce inflammation.