Causes of Chronic Insomnia
Sleep problems seem to run in families. About 35% of people with insomnia have a family history of insomnia, with the mother being the most commonly affected family member. Still, because so many factors are involved in insomnia, a genetic component is difficult to define.
Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Disorders
Many cases of chronic insomnia cases have an emotional or psychological basis. The disorders that most often cause insomnia are:
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Insomnia may also cause emotional problems. It is often unclear which condition has triggered the other, or if the two conditions, in fact, have a common source. [For more information, see In-Depth Reports #28: Anxiety; #08: Depression; #66: Bipolar disorder; and #30: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.]
In many cases, it is unclear if chronic insomnia is a symptom of some physical or psychological condition or if it is a primary disorder of its own. In most instances, a mix of psychological and physical conditions causes the 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.