You Can Blame Your Family for Your Insomnia

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

When it comes to investigating causes of insomnia, most people focus on medical issues as likely sleep inhibitors. After all, a range of conditions, from allergies to arthritis, can disrupt our slumber.

However, a significant culprit may be hiding in plain sight: our families!Research from the National Sleep Foundation indicates that one of the causes of insomnia is depression. Those who have been emotionally struggling with parents, significant others, or even children may develop depression. The stress from depression, meanwhile, can cause major changes in mood, hormones, and individual physiology, and these can lead to a host of psychiatric issues -- as well as insomnia. Worse yet, once you have insomnia, it can further aggravate depression.

Of course, your family doesn't have to drive you to major depression in order to drive you to insomnia! According to Duke University, chronic insomnia may also be caused by severe and persistent anxiety.** Family matters**

No matter how much you love them, family members can be among the primary sources of anxiety in anyone's life. This can lead to a number of thought processes and emotional dynamics that can interfere with sleep, from worrying about an uncertain future with your significant other, to fretting over mistakes (imagined or real) that you made during the day.

Feeling overwhelmed by family responsibilities can also lead to anxiety which, in turn, leads to insomnia. It's easy to imagine how juggling different responsibilities and cycling through multiple family roles (parent, child, sibling, caregiver, etc.) can lead to this kind of anxiety-induced insomnia.

Ironically, some of the anxiety that leads to insomnia doesn't necessarily have its roots in negativity. Some anxiety occurs simply as a result of feeling overexcited or overstimulated. Sheer excitement over a new romance, for instance, may be enough to trigger anxious thoughts and insomnia. After all, anxiety about the future can easily be triggered by worrying about how to have the best possible "happily ever after" with a significant other (new or otherwise).

No matter how positive the source of the family-related anxiety, though, the bottom line remains the same: it can affect your sleep and increase your risk of insomnia.

As with depression, the anxiety that causes insomnia can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: as families stress us enough to affect our sleep, we begin to stress over not getting enough sleep ... moving us ever closer to chronic and isolating insomnia, even when we're surrounded by those we love.

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free insomnia sleep training. If you can't sleep, his online course can help. Over 4,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 97 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.