Causes of Short-Term and Transient Insomnia
A reaction to change or stress is one of the most common causes of short-term and transient insomnia. This condition is sometimes referred to as adjustment sleep disorder.
The trigger could be a major or traumatic event such as:
- An acute illness
- Injury or surgery
- The loss of a loved one
- Job loss
Temporary insomnia could also develop after a relatively minor event, including:
- Extremes in weather
- An exam
- Trouble at work
In most cases, normal sleep almost always returns when the condition resolves, the individual recovers from the event, or the person becomes used to the new situation. Treatment is needed if sleepiness interferes with functioning or if it continues for more than a few weeks. Individual responses to stress vary and some people may not experience insomnia at all, even during very stressful situations while others may suffer from insomnia in response to very mild stressors.
Female Hormonal Fluctuations
Fluctuations in female hormones play a major role in insomnia in women over their lifetimes. This insomnia is usually temporary.
- During Menstruation. Progesterone promotes sleep, and levels of this hormone plunge during menstruation, causing insomnia. (When they rise during ovulation, women may become sleepier than usual.)
- During Pregnancy. The effects of changes in progesterone levels in the first and last trimester can disrupt normal sleep patterns.
- Menopause. Insomnia can be a major problem in the first phases of menopause, when hormones are fluctuating intensely. Insomnia during this period may be due to different factors that occur. In some women, hot flashes, sweating, and a sense of anxiety can awaken women suddenly and frequently at night. In many cases, insomnia is temporary. Treating hot flashes may help resolve chronic insomnia.
Review Date: 06/11/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.