insomnia causes

Insomnia Causes: What Causes Insomnia? What Is Secondary Insomnia??

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Read more about insomnia causes. How sleeplessness occurs because of different disorder? Below health letter enlists common disorders that can be termed as insomnia causes.

Secondary Insomnia Causes

Letter to the patient suffering from Insomnia

Date: 16-Jul-2016


Dear friend,

Hope you are doing well. I guess you have read my first health letter. Let I rehearse the definition to start with.

Insomnia caused by another underlying disorder

Insomnia in simple terms is an inability to sleep. The person could not initiate sleep. Sometimes even though he succeeds, his sleep gets disturbed in-between. And then after he could not initiate remaining sleep. This is the usual situation of primary insomnia. However, in the case of secondary insomnia, he remains sleepless because of other underlying disorders.

In my initial letter articles, we discussed primary insomnia causes. In this article, we will be discussing other medical conditions or the disorders that can affect our sleep.

Meaning – Suffering from one disorder leading to another.

Seems like effects of both disorders remain in direct proportion. For example, because of pain, you cannot sleep. Since you cannot sleep and rest, your pain keeps on worsening.

I think you have got my point!!

We have already discussed the relation between surrounding environment and sleep. How surrounding environment can be one of the insomnia causes. Also, there is one more environment that needs to be in equilibrium. The equilibrium especially in regards to our sleep. Any imbalance in this environment impacts our quality of sleep.

And that environment is our physical body!!

Insomnia Causes: What Other Disorders Can Cause Insomnia?

what causes insomniaSome physical and mental disorders can be enlisted as insomnia causes. Usually, these disorders are chronic. Hence the sleeplessness originating from them maybe chronic. Let I list few common secondary insomnia causes.

  • Nasal disorders
    • Turbinate Hypertrophy
    • Deviated nasal septum
    • Post nasal drip
  • Allergic Rhinitis
  • Dental Pain
  • Earache
  • Acid Reflux
  • Asthma
  • Body pains
    • Arthritis
    • Back Pain
    • Other different types of pain
  • Certain neurological conditions like Parkinson’s Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Psychological disorders
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
  • Stimulant foods like tea, coffee, nicotine and alcohol
  • Racing mind/ Thought Train

I know many things are common. Have you ever experienced one or few things from above list???

Insomnia Causes: How Above Disorders Can Impact Sleep?

The problem of insomnia is widespread. It affects to whole population irrespective of your age and gender. Hence below mentioned insomnia causes relate to the whole population.

Dear friend,  do not to use below information to self-diagnose your medical condition.

Nasal disorders and Insomnia

Sleep is a natural phenomenon. We stop our all voluntary activities when we sleep. By nature, our breathing is controlled by voluntary and involuntary systems.

We need to hand over control of our breathing to the involuntary system before we fall asleep.
Any disorder that disturbs this hand over impacts our sleep!!!

insomnia causes nasal chokingYou are aware we can breathe either by nose or mouth. But to breath via mouth, we have to keep it open. And compare to the nose, we are not that habituated to breath via mouth. Probably that’s why we can not breathe involuntarily by mouth.


It usually takes a time to breathe via mouth involuntarily. And this time lag affects our sleep. Due to this we simply miss the schedule of our sleep!!!

Often for allergic individuals, the nasal disorder may be one of the insomnia causes.

Nasal disorders usually affect our sleep either by choking or irritation. The person can become sleepless due to below insomnia causes.

List of common nasal disorders that may affect sleep
  1. Turbinate Hypertrophy: Turbinate is a nasal spongy bone that protrudes in the nasal passage. They are located bilaterally in our nasal cavity. They direct the airflow inside. The mucosal membrane covering these turbinates sensitized by various factors like allergies or infections. As a result, the turbinates swell. Therefore they cause unilateral or sometimes bilateral nasal obstruction.
  2. Deviated nasal septum: Deviation of the septum is the septum that divides our nasal cavity in half. The people having this septum deviated suffer from choking. The deviated septum may cause irritation, pain or post nasal drip.
  3. Allergic Rhinitis: Itchy or running nose sometimes makes our sleep difficult.
  4. Post-nasal drip: Excessive mucus produced by nasal mucosa gets accumulated in the throat. Continuous accumulation of mucosa or sensation of fullness can disturb our sleep. The post nasal drip usually impacts sleeping posture. The person has to clear unusual accumulation of mucus in throat. This disturbs his sleep schedule or sleep time.

Dental Pain and Insomnia

Dental pain is one of prominent insomnia causes especially in children. Usually, dental pains are caused by tooth decay, pulp inflammation or dental trauma.

Remember your childhood??

insomnia-causes-dental painI am sure many of us have gone through this experience. Many times dental pains require medical intervention. Its really hard to have a calm sleep especially if you are suffering from severe dental pains. Either you need analgesic or visit to the dentist.

Just imagine the scenario… a child had a decayed tooth and started crying with dental pains… he woke up his parents. What they together could do?? They approached to the doctor.

Dear friend, how many suffered from sleep loss???

Oh… how many times patients suffering from dental pains woke me up??

Dentists were not available during night hours where I was practicing. I had to rely on few analgesics to temporarily treat my patients.

So by experience, I would like to comment – ‘tooth pains are more usual during the night hours than the day’.

Earache and Insomnia

Common causes of an earache include ear infection, ear wax, foreign bodies, and injuries. Sometimes the common cold or upper respiratory tract infections can cause ear pains.
insomnia causes - ear painsAnd what if they get worse at night??

They may impact our sleep.

Analgesics may benefit. However, its necessary to get the treatment done by the ear specialist. Do not try to remove ear wax on your own. Probably you may end up by injuring ear canal.

By experience I would say, the association of an earache and insomnia is more in toddlers than adults.

Acid Reflux and Insomnia

Acid reflux in simple terms is back-flow of ingested food. It is the condition wherein food returns back from the stomach to the esophagus. Often it is termed as GERD (Gastro-Esophageal-Reflux-Disorder), Heartburn or acid indigestion.

How can it cause insomnia?

insomnia causes acid refluxSometimes heartburn itself would not let you sleep!! Occasionally food may return back in your mouth when you are in sleep!!!

Wait!! the Condition may be dreadful here!!!

What if back-flow of food contents get aspired in your respiratory passage??? After all, this happens when you are in sleep. You are not that alert.

Dear friend, you may suffer from sudden breathlessness!!

Oh… the Dreadful Asphyxia!!!

Hence acid reflux is one of the insomnia causes which may turn the situation serious!!!

The person may become sleepless. Probably because of the fear of getting aspirated again.

Hope you have understood the relation between acid reflux and insomnia.

Asthma and Insomnia

AsthmaInsomnia causes Asthma is long-term inflammation of lung airways. An asthmatic person can suffer from wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath or chest tightness.

In a case of acute bronchospasm, they suffer from severe breathlessness. Breathlessness worsens as they lie down in bed. They are unable to achieve habituated sleeping position. And hence they suffer from difficulty in sleep.

Asthma and COPD conditions are usually chronic. Hence they may cause sleeplessness for long-term.

For some individuals, boasts of a cough is another reason of sleeplessness.

Painful disorders and Insomnia

The list of these insomnia causes is bigger. Maybe some suffer from arthritis, maybe some have back pain. As a result, such people strive for achieving the comfortable sleeping position.

“The agony of pain is an enemy of sleep reign!!!”

Usually, such disorders start in late age. Often they turn chronic. Hence people consequently suffer from chronic insomnia due to such insomnia causes. Let we twist our exercise motto of ‘No pain… No Gain’

Here we can say: “Suffering From Pain…No Sleep Gain”

Hope you have understood the context behind!!

Neurological conditions and Insomnia

Sometimes neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease consequently cause sleeplessness. Since such disorders start at a late age, the old age furthermore contributes. In addition, sleeplessness worsens due to drugs used to treat such disorders.

Old age!!!! Just think of insomnia causes!!!!

Maybe loneliness, maybe inability can cause insomnia. Furthermore, financial-physical-mental worries consequently disturb sleep.  Therefore insomnia is often common among old individuals.

Hyperthyroidism and Insomnia

This disorder relates to thyroid gland situated in the anterior portion of the neck. The symptoms of this disorder are individualistic. However, insomnia often observed in such individuals.

Overproduction of thyroid hormone consequently increases the heart rate. As a result, body and mind too go on overdrive. Consequently, these people face difficulty in taking rest and relax. Therefore they may become irritable and anxious.

Guess the result!!

Restless leg syndrome and Insomnia

These people always have an urge to move. Therefore they can not relax. In addition, because of different kinds of uncomfortable sensations in legs they suffer from insomnia.

And this impacts their sleeping position. As a result, they lose tempo of falling asleep.

Therefore here, more than emotion…sleeplessness occurs due to motion!!!!

Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia

Since anxiety evolves from physical-mental-financial tensions, we have a bunch of insomnia causes to mention.

Insomnia causes anxietyIt maybe job stress, it maybe the fears of disease and death or it maybe the stress related to different responsibilities!! All are widespread insomnia causes.

Sleeplessness due to estranged relation! Sleep loss due to over ambition!!

Pocket picks sleep out of your life! Pair mismatch puts despair in your life!!

Business worries mess your sleep! Corporate world incorporates insomnia in your life!!!

Be aware… persistence of such factors for long duration can turn insomnia into a chronic disorder.

depression insomnia causesSadness, nervousness and mood change seems like tentacles of depression. They make sleeping difficult. On average, 1 in 6 people can suffer from depression at some stage of their lives.

Just imagine the prevalence of insomnia in such individuals!!!

I think above information is sufficient to understand insomnia causes. We will discuss insomnia causes related to stimulant foods in the separate blog.

Dear friend, don’t feel depressed by reading the list of above insomnia causes.

There are ways to come out and zonk out!!!


Dr. Suraj Awadhani