Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It may cause a number of sleep problems including trouble falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night or waking very early in the morning. It may also be a sleep that is not restful. Insomnia can be a short-term problem, or it can be chronic. Chronic insomnia lasts for more than 4 weeks.

Insomnia can occur for many reasons. Short-term insomnia is often caused by temporary situations or problems with the environment. They may include:

  • A life crisis or stress, including the loss of a life partner, divorce, or loss of a job
  • Environmental noise
  • Extreme temperatures (like a room that is too hot or too cold)
  • Change in the surrounding environment
  • Sleep/wake schedule problems, such as those due to jet lag

There may be no clear reason for chronic insomnia. It may also be due to other medical or psychiatric conditions. Examples of these conditions that can lead to sleep problems include:

Both chronic and short-term insomnia may be due to

  • Behavioral factors, including:
    • Misuse of caffeine, alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or other substances
    • Disrupted sleep/wake cycles from shift work or other nighttime activities
    • Chronic stress
    • Excessive napping in the afternoon or evening
  • Certain medicines such as:
    • Allergy medicines
    • Corticosteroids
    • Blood pressure medicines
    • Psychiatric medicines