The sleeping difficulties are called insomnia. The definition of insomnia is the difficulties in initiating and/or maintaining sleep or a poor quality of sleep associated with impairment of daytime functioning. People of all ages including children are affected by insomnia. Approximately 10% are suffering continuously with this problem. Almost every second person experiences this problem sometimes in his life.

The three classes of insomnia are:

• Lasting one week or less
• Lasting more than a week but less than three weeks
• Lasting more than three weeks

Insomnia can be a sign or a symptom. The factors that cause this problem include:

• Stress
• Excess heat or cold or noise or lighting
• Unfamiliar surroundings including a different bed
• Jet lag
• Working in shifts
• Excess alcohol
• Smoking
• Abuse of illegal drugs
• Strong coffee in the late evening
• Side effects of certain medicines
• Symptom of some diseases

The sleep disorders that cause insomnia include:

• Sleep apnea – abnormal pauses in breathing
• Restless leg syndrome – burning, itching or tickling sensations in the leg during sleep
• Periodic limp movement disorder – repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep
• Circadian sleep disturbance – have changed biological rhythms
• Sleep walking

The other important conditions that can cause insomnia are medical, psychiatric and physiologic and they include:

The medical causes include:

• Breathing problems from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• Acid reflux
• Obesity
• Frequent urination or urinary incontinence
• Chronic pain
• Heart diseases
• Obstructive sleep apnea
• Hyperthyroidism
• Diseases like dementia, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease

The psychiatric problems that can cause insomnia include:

• Depression
• Mania
• Anxiety
• Psychosis
• Posttraumatic stress disorder

The common physiologic conditions that can cause insomnia include:

• Menstruation
• pregnancy
• Menopause
• Midlife crisis
• pain

It is important to consult with your doctor to find the causes of insomnia. There are many treatments to help you and your doctor can suggest the right one for you. Sometimes you need the help of a neurologist or a psychologist.