Insomnia Causes

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on September 16, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on September 16, 2014

Insomnia Causes and Risk Factors

Insomnia can have a significant impact on everyday life. Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it can affect your overall health. Relationships and work productivity can also suffer. If you have insomnia, your doctor can help you find out what kind you have. Primary insomnia is its own disorder. It isn’t a symptom of another condition. Insomnia can either last only a few days or weeks (acute) or be long-term (chronic).

If your insomnia stems from an underlying condition, it’s called secondary insomnia. It’s the most common type of sleeplessness. It can be either acute or chronic. Some common factors that can cause secondary insomnia include the following.

Stress and Anxiety

Worries can keep your mind active at night. Issues at work or school or with family can make you anxious. This can make it difficult or impossible for you to sleep. Traumatic events like the death of a loved one, divorce, or a job loss often cause long-lasting stress and anxiety. These conditions can lead to chronic sleeplessness.


Depression is a common source of insomnia. This may be due to imbalances in brain chemicals that affect sleep patterns. Alternately, you may be too distressed by fears or troubling thoughts that can come with depression to sleep well. 

Insomnia can be a common symptom of other mood disorders. Bipolar disorder, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder can all cause sleep problems.