Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which the person has disturbed sleeping pattern. Either he/she has difficulty to fall asleep or the stay asleep for normal duration. Our brain is one of the vital organs in body and it needs enough rest in the form of sleep to function properly. The sleep deprived persons usually unable to perform poor compared to those with normal sleep pattern and duration. Insomnia or sleep deprivation is linked with many other health issues.

Symptoms of insomnia

  • Unable to fall asleep
  • Frequently waking up during night and difficulty to go back to sleep
  • Feeling tired in the morning
  • Poor memory and inability to concentrate


  • A major life Stress (education, job or relationship issues, death of a loved one)
  • Illness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Environmental factors such as noise, cold, light which may disturb sleep pattern
  • Medicines such as allergies, blood pressure etc

Types of insomnia

The type are:

1. Primary insomnia

In this condition the person’s sleep deprivation or insomnia without links to other health issues.

2. Secondary insomnia

Sometimes having some previous health issue causes sleep disorder. For instance, the person is already suffering g with asthma, depression, cancer, heath problems or taking drugs.

3. Acute and chronic type

Insomnia is characterized as acute if it is for short term. The duration of acute suffering is from one night to a week. This may occur in episodes. On the other hand, if insomnia lasts for more than a week, month, it is the chronic form of disorder.


Diagnosis of insomnia includes physical exams and medical history. The health care providers check psychological condition of the person, this is because it usually occurs mostly due to mental stress or depression.

Medical description and related health issues

1. The sleep-wake cycle

Clinical studies show the possible causes of insomnia are not only unhealthy lifestyle but also certain biological factors. Our brain has a sleep wake cycle. This cycle when disturbed, results either in more sleep derive or in sleep deprivation. Brain has certain neurotransmitter molecules for coordination in body and maintaining transitions between sleep and wakefulness. For instance serotonin and melatonin work in brain and control the natural sleep wake cycle.

2. keeping you mind busy

People spending too much time working or staying awake purposely, suppress the hormonal release. For instance, using computers, mobile or watching TV suppress the release of hormones that maintain the sleeping patterns.

3. Restless leg syndrome

The previous system may cause insomnia such as restless leg syndrome.  This is a neurological condition in which the person has uncomfortable feeling of moving his or her legs during sleep. About 10% of patients have this syndrome. Consequently they feel difficulty in sleeping and have a proper sleep.

4. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is another health issue linked to insomnia. The person’s airway become partially or completely obstructed while asleep. Consequently, the person has troubled sleeping.

5. Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are another main reason for insomnia in many patients. Both anxiety and depression directly affect the brain functioning and hormonal balance.  On the contrary, one may have depression or anxiety because of insomnia. There is close relation of both.  Over thinking, stressing about the future or regretting the past events may trigger anxiety or depression. Initially, difficulty in falling asleep later gets worse.

6. Lifestyle

The lifestyle of a person has close relation with troubled sleeping. If you take frequent naps or stay awake late at night, this confuses brain and sleep pattern. Having meal late at night or using too spicy food is another reason. Using alcohol or drugs is detrimental to brain health. Similarly, caffeine and nicotine are stimulant in energy drinks that initially make a person active and feel productive. Consuming too much of these results in insomnia. According to National Sleep Foundation, people who consume four or more cups of caffeinated drinks are more likely to suffer from insomnia.


Recently researchers have developed pharmacological treatment for insomnia by understanding its neurological basis of sleep wake cycle. Benzodiazepines medications target the GABA system which is used by hypnotics. GABA stands for gamma amino butyric acid which is amino acid with neurotransmitter functions. It has role in maintain sleep patterns. Hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal directly control the sleep wake cycle. On the other hand, non-pharmacological treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy.  This therapy is relatively harmless compared to medicines.

Bottom line

Insomnia or sleep disorder is characterized by a person’s disturbed sleep pattern. This is linked to many factors such as lifestyle, anxiety and depression etc. The medicines are used for treatment but the therapeutic treatment strategy is better than using medicines.