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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Insomnia
      Category : Health Centers > Sleep Disorders


Alternate Names : Sleeplessness, Primary Insomnia, Wakefulness, Inability to Sleep

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Insomnia includes difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and early morning awakening. Insomnia can be a symptom of another disorder. It may vary from restlessness or disturbed sleep to a shortened length of sleep. Some individuals suffer complete wakefulness. Primary insomnia is diagnosed if sleep should normally occur, and two possible influences are ruled out. The first influence is something external, like noise or bright light that hinders sleep. The second influence is any disorder, medication, or other substance that might be causing the sleep problem.

What is going on in the body?

Sleeplessness is considered to be a problem when it is severe enough to prevent the brain from getting enough rest on a consistent basis. An occasional sleepless night is not usually considered a problem. However, when sleeping problems last 2 weeks or more, the insomnia becomes more serious. Insomnia can be a short-term problem. If insomnia extends beyond 3 to 4 weeks, it is considered chronic.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Insomnia can be caused by many factors, or a combination of factors. Causes of insomnia may include:

  • side effects of medications, especially amphetamines, excessive thyroid replacement, and many decongestants and antihistamines
  • caffeine
  • nicotine
  • alcohol
  • side effects of some drugs of abuse
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • poor sleep surroundings
  • chronic illness
  • chronic pain
  • daytime napping
  • poor sleep routine or sleep habits
  • grief
  • withdrawal of certain drugs (stopping abruptly)
  • restless leg syndrome


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    Insomnia: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Ann Reyes, Ph.D.
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 09/04/01

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