20 Things You Didn't Know About Insomnia

Insomnia is the most common disorder in the world. While most people are familiar with the basic symptoms of insomnia, there are many interesting and surprising facts about this disorder that can help you with your sleep issues.

By Simran
27 Feb 2023

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterised by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, resulting in poor-quality sleep and daytime fatigue. It’s also important to know that falling asleep and staying asleep are two different types of insomnia. There are two main types of insomnia: onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) and maintenance insomnia (difficulty staying asleep). Let's take a closer look at each type.

Onset insomnia is characterised by difficulty falling asleep at the start of your sleep cycle. People with onset insomnia may lay awake in bed for an extended period before finally falling asleep. This type of insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors, including anxiety, stress, depression, medication side effects, or certain medical conditions.


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Maintenance insomnia, on the other hand, is characterised by difficulty staying asleep throughout the night. People with this type of insomnia may wake up frequently during the night or wake up too early in the morning and have trouble falling back asleep. Maintenance insomnia can also be caused by a range of factors, including sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, or certain medical conditions.

Many people with insomnia may experience both onset and maintenance problems. This is known as "mixed insomnia" and can be particularly challenging to manage.

It's important to identify the type of insomnia a person is experiencing in order to determine the most appropriate treatment approach. Treatment options may include cognitive-behavioural therapy, medication, or a combination of both. In some cases, addressing the underlying cause of insomnia, such as treating anxiety or managing pain, may also be necessary for effective treatment.


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In this blog, we will explore 20 interesting things you didn't know about insomnia.

1. Insomnia affects more women than men

According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, women are more likely to experience insomnia than men. The study found that approximately 30 per cent of women reported experiencing insomnia symptoms compared to 20 per cent of men.


2. Insomnia can be a side effect of medication

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, corticosteroids, and beta-blockers, can interfere with sleep and cause insomnia. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that medication-induced insomnia was the primary sleep complaint for 21 per cent of participants.


3. Chronic insomnia is linked to depression

Insomnia and depression are often closely linked. According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, individuals with chronic insomnia are five times more likely to develop depression than those without sleep problems.


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4. Insomnia can increase the risk of heart disease

Research suggests that insomnia may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A study published in the European Heart Journal found that people with insomnia had a 27 per cent increased risk of developing heart disease compared to those without sleep problems.


5. Insomnia is associated with an increased risk of accidents

Sleep deprivation and insomnia can impair cognitive function and reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents. A study published in the journal Sleep found that people with insomnia were twice as likely to be involved in car accidents than those without sleep problems.


6. Insomnia can be genetic

Research suggests that genetics may play a role in the development of insomnia. A study published in the journal Sleep found that genetic factors accounted for approximately 38 per cent of the risk of developing chronic insomnia.


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7. Insomnia can worsen chronic pain

Chronic pain and insomnia often occur together, and each can make the other worse. According to a study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews, insomnia can increase the perception of pain intensity and decrease pain tolerance.


8. Insomnia can affect children

While insomnia is often thought of as an adult problem, it can also affect children. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that approximately 25 per cent of children experience sleep problems, including insomnia.


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9. Insomnia can lead to weight gain

Research suggests that sleep deprivation and insomnia may be linked to weight gain. A study published in the journal Sleep found that people who slept less than six hours per night were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who slept for seven to eight hours per night.


10. Insomnia can be a risk factor for dementia

Research suggests that insomnia may increase the risk of developing dementia in later life. A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that people with insomnia had a 1.5 times greater risk of developing dementia than those without sleep problems.


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11. Insomnia can be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can be effective in treating insomnia. A study published in the journal Sleep found that CBT was more effective than medication in treating insomnia in the long term.


12. Insomnia can be a symptom of other medical conditions

Insomnia can be a symptom of several medical conditions, including anxiety, depression, and sleep apnea. Insomnia can be caused by lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors such as irregular sleep schedules, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, and high levels of stress can all contribute to insomnia.


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13. Insomnia can also be treated with medication

In addition to CBT, medication such as sedatives and hypnotics can be used to treat insomnia. However, these medications should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as they can have potentially dangerous side effects.


14. Chronic insomnia is more severe

Chronic insomnia is defined as difficulty sleeping for at least three nights per week for at least three months. Chronic insomnia is a more severe form of the disorder that can significantly impact an individual's quality of life.


15. Insomnia can be caused by jet lag

Travelling across multiple time zones can disrupt your circadian rhythm, leading to jet lag and difficulty sleeping.


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16. Insomnia can be caused by shift work

Working irregular or overnight shifts can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia and other sleep disorders.


17. Insomnia can lead to cognitive impairment.

Chronic insomnia has been linked to cognitive impairment, including difficulties with attention, memory, and decision-making. In fact, research has shown that even one night of poor sleep can impact cognitive performance.


18. Insomnia is a symptom of low levels of calcium

Low levels of calcium can potentially contribute to insomnia, although it is not a direct cause. Calcium plays a vital role in the body's ability to regulate sleep, particularly the production and release of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles.


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19. Insomnia can be prevented with healthy sleep habits

Practising good sleep hygiene, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, can help prevent insomnia and improve sleep quality.


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Insomnia is a complex disorder with a wide range of causes and potential consequences. While it can be challenging to manage, there are many effective treatment options available, including cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. By understanding the underlying factors contributing to insomnia and practising healthy sleep habits, individuals can take steps to improve their sleep quality and overall well-being.


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