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abnormal wakefulness or inability to sleepsleep,
resting state in which an individual becomes relatively quiescent and relatively unaware of the environment. During sleep, which is in part a period of rest and relaxation, most physiological functions such as body temperature, blood pressure, and rate of breathing and
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. The condition may result from illness or physical discomfort, or it may be caused by stimulants such as coffee or drugs. However, frequently some psychological factor, such as worry or tension, is the cause. Mild insomnia may often be relieved by a soothing activity like reading or listening to soft music. Chronic or severe insomnia requires treatment of the underlying physical or psychological disorder. In a few, very rare cases, individuals in certain families are subject to an incurable inherited insomia caused by prions that form plaques in the thalamusthalamus
, mass of nerve cells centrally located in the brain just below the cerebrum and resembling a large egg in size and shape. The thalamus is a routing station for all incoming sensory impulses except those of smell, transmitting them to higher (cerebral) nerve centers.
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; the disease appears suddenly in adulthood and ultimately is fatal.

Many patients respond to the assurance that their sleeplessness is a result of normal anxieties or a treatable physical disorder. Opportunities to ventilate anxieties often ease distress and helps resume normal sleeping patterns. Elderly persons are encourage to exercise more during the day; instructed relaxation, administration of tryptophan, and intake of warm milk helps some patients sleep. Sedatives and hypnotics drugs may be employed if the sleeplessness is impairing the subject's sense of well being. Those who wake because of pain receive an analgesic at bedtime; for those who experience insomnia accompanied with depression, an antidepressant often suffices.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also agrypnia), disturbed sleep. Insomnia manifests itself as a shortening of the period of nocturnal sleep, delay in onset of sleep, early awakening, and repeated interruption of sleep during the night. Sleep is also impaired qualitatively; it becomes more superficial, the length of deep sleep is diminished, and the balance between dream-sleep and dreamless sleep is upset. Insomnia occurs in cases of neurosis, certain cardiovascular and psychological illnesses, neuro infections, and injury to those parts of the brain that regulate the correct alternation of sleep and wakefulness. In healthy people, it may occur after great physical or mental stress, fatigue, strong emotional experiences, and similar instances. The total absence of nocturnal or daytime sleep for long durations almost never occurs.

Treatment involves adherence to the correct regimen of work and rest, the elimination of irritating factors, bathing, and exercise. The patient may be prescribed tranquilizers and, in cases of persistent insomnia, soporifics. In cases of insomnia caused by illness, treatment consists in eliminating the original illness responsible for the insomnia.


Pervov, L. G. Son i ego narushenie, Moscow, 1965.
Fedotov, D. D. Son i ego rasstroistvo. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Sleeplessness; disturbed sleep; prolonged inability to sleep.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


The inability to sleep. If you suffer from it, the solution is to look up all the terms under "standards" in this encyclopedia. Dozing should occur shortly. If that does not work... well, at least you will become the computer guru on your block!
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References in periodicals archive ?
Endorsing a similar view, Dr ?Mohammad Hamad Mohammad, internal medicine specialist at Al Tadawi Medical Centre, Dubai, said: "There are many causes of insomnia (some mild and others more serious).
Many potential causes of insomnia should be addressed before treating a patient with sleep-promoting medications.
Although there are people who need medication to get a good night's rest, a large proportion of America's estimated 50 million insomniacs have sleep problems that could be solved by addressing the underlying causes of insomnia, or by learning techniques to make sleep come more easily.
The underlying causes of insomnia must be evaluated prior to determining any treatment plan.
RLS remains underdiagnosed and untreated, even though it is one of the most common causes of insomnia, affecting 5%-10% of adults in primary care practices and an even higher proportion of specific populations.
Causes of insomnia can include depression, anxiety, pain and other medical conditions, as well as environmental factors such as jet lag or shift work.
Commenting on the condition he dubbed "Sunday night fever", a spokesman for the internet site, which was developed in association with the Scottish Tourist Board, said: "Stress is one of the biggest causes of insomnia.
This can be a useful guide to well-directed laboratory studies that may yield valuable information about endocrine, cardiovascular, neurologic and respiratory causes of insomnia. However, an exhaustive discussion of these causes is beyond the scope of this paper.
QUESTION 16: Alcohol is one of the major causes of insomnia. The stuporous sleep is not normal sleep.
Whatever the causes of insomnia, a study conducted last year by Prof Ian Hindmarch at Surrey University reveals that two in ten people say they suffer from severe lack of sleep.