Recognise insomnia and its causes

Recognise insomnia and its causes

Sleep Centre

Recognise insomnia and its causes

To be constantly tired, feel weak and depleted of energy due to sleeplessness is no laughing matter. It can have fatal consequences but, fortunately, there is hope – it can be treated successfully.

Sleep depravation

There is nothing as refreshing as a good night’s sleep or as frustrating as being deprived of a good night’s sleep. Ask any insomniac! If your sleeplessness lasts longer than a few weeks, you should take a closer look at the situation as you may be experiencing a form of insomnia.
If you have trouble falling asleep, if you wake up frequently during the night or if you awake earlier in the morning than you should, you are suffering from insomnia. Short-term insomnia (a few nights or a few weeks) will probably vanish as soon as your worries end or the stressful situation that causes your sleeplessness passes. Long-term insomnia, however, needs some attention.

Causes of insomnia

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Depression
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Medication (many prescription and other medicines can interfere with sleep)
  • Medical conditions (arthritis, cancer, heart failure, lung disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, overactive thyroid, stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Psycho-physiological insomnia (worrying about not sleeping)
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Lifestyle factors (unhealthy eating, drinking and exercising habits)
  • Jetlag
  • Poor sleep habits (irregular sleep schedule, stimulating activities before bed, use of your bed for activities other than sleep)
  • Environmental causes (such as a snoring bed partner, an unsupportive mattress, noise, heat or cold).

Effects of insomnia

Insomnia is a major cause of accidents, both on our roads and in the workplace. In addition, irritability owing to insomnia may harm your relationships with your loved ones. Therefore, it is important to see a health professional if you suffer from insomnia. Together you can determine the cause and decide on a plan of action.

To be constantly tired, to feel weak and depleted of energy owing to sleeplessness is not necessary and can be treated.


Can’t sleep? Causes, cures, and treatments for Insomnia. Retrieved from:

Insomnia. Retrieved from:

Revised by M van Os