Skip to content
    Font Size

    Causes of Sleep Problems

    Sleep problems can be caused by various factors. Although causes may differ, the end result of all sleep disorders is that the body's natural cycle of slumber and daytime wakefulness is disrupted or exaggerated.

    Factors that can cause sleep problems iclude:

    Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

    Does 'Sleeping On It' Really Work?

    By Jared Miller The Rumor: When faced with a problem, 'sleeping on it' will help you make the right call At some point or another, we’ve all had to make a difficult decision. One of the most commonly offered pieces of advice is to “sleep on it.” So, is that a good idea, or is it actually just an excuse to procrastinate? The Verdict: Sleep really can help you make better decisions What may seem like an impossible problem could actually have a clear solution after you get a few hours...

    Read the Does 'Sleeping On It' Really Work? article > >

    • Physical disturbances (for example, pain from ulcers)
    • Medical issues (for example, asthma)
    • Psychiatric disorders (for example, depression and anxiety disorders)
    • Environmental issues (for example, alcohol use)

    Short-term or acute insomnia can be caused by life stresses (such as job loss or change, death of a loved one, or moving), illness, or environmental factors, such as light, noise, or extreme temperatures.

    Long-term or chronic insomnia (insomnia that occurs at least three nights a week for a month or longer) can be caused by factors such as depression, chronic stress, and pain or discomfort at night.

    Other factors that can interfere with sleep include:

    • Genetics: Researchers have found a genetic basis for narcolepsy, a neurological disorder of sleep regulation that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness.
    • Night shift work: People who work at night often experience sleep disorders, because they cannot sleep when they start to feel drowsy. Their activities run contrary to their biological clocks.
    • Medications: Many drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain antidepressants, blood pressure medication, and over-the-counter cold medicine.
    • Aging: About half of all adults over the age of 65 have some sort of sleep disorder. It is not clear if it is a normal part of aging or a result of medications that older people commonly use.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on August 21, 2014

    Today on WebMD

    fatigued senior woman
    We’ve got 10 tips to show you how
    Man snoring in bed
    Know your myths from your facts.
    Young woman sleeping
    What do your dreams say about you?
    woman eith hangover
    It’s common, and really misunderstood.
    Young woman sleeping
    Cannot sleep
    child sitting in bed
    Woman with insomnia
    nurse sleeping
    Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
    Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
    Pain at Night