5 Lesser Known Causes of Insomnia

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

The root cause of insomnia is different for everyone. Some people may be able to quickly determine what is causing their sleeping problems. Others may have no idea why they’re suddenly struggling with sleep. The following causes of insomnia usually aren't discussed as often as others. Some may even come as a surprise.

Thyroid Issues

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) can keep your body alert and induce insomnia. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) can make you to feel constantly tired and fatigued. If you can’t seem to find your body’s “off” switch, or you feel extreme fatigue on a regular basis, have your doctor check your thyroid levels.


Going through a major life event, such as a death in the family, divorce, loss of employment or other scenario that leaves you feeling sadness, may also cause insomnia. Prolonged sadness that does not go away can also turn into depression. No one knows which comes first, but depression and insomnia feed off of each other. If you have blues that won't go away, visit your doctor to learn about treatment options.

Frequent urination

If your sleep is consistently interrupted due to frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom, it can induce insomnia. Frequent urination is not just a sign of aging, but can also be a sign that something is going on with your kidneys, urinary tract, hormones, and more. If the urge to go to the bathroom is causing you to lose sleep, visit your doctor, and get it treated before your body's sleep/wake cycle gets completely out of sync.

Lack of deep sleep

As we age, the restorative stage of sleep, known as delta sleep, can decrease. This is where tissues and muscles in the body are repaired. Beginning in your mid to late 40s you may notice that you’re waking up more often at night. To help combat this, exercise often. By giving your body a workout, it responds by increasing the amount of delta sleep you get. At least 30 minutes of exercise a day can reduce nighttime awakenings.


Some of the medications we take to help us with one problem may cause new problems. If insomnia is becoming a new bed buddy, investigate medications such as those for cholesterol, blood pressure and depression. Also talk with your doctor about switching up the timing of your medication, moving as many to the morning as possible to see if that helps you sleep better.

An expert tip

Pinpointing the cause of your insomnia is the first step in correcting the problem. Continue your search for the cause of your sleeping problems until it is discovered. Don’t be ashamed to enlist the help of physicians and sleep specialists if needed. Sometimes we are not able to kick insomnia on our own and need the help of professionals.

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.