Insomnia: What factors cause it?

By: Elyse Ganss

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes an inability to sleep in regular increments. Insomnia can be caused by many issues including medical conditions, biological factors, and psychiatric conditions. Medical causes of insomnia include nasal/allergies, endocrine problems, asthma, neurological conditions, chronic pain, or gastrointestinal problems.

Insomnia can frequently co-occur with mental health disorders. Some psychiatric problems that may impact sleep include depression and anxiety. Depression includes symptoms of hopelessness, sadness, and a lack of energy. Severe depression is correlated with a higher risk for insomnia. Anxiety symptoms include stressful thoughts, general anxiousness, panic, or dread. Anxiety can make it so falling asleep feels impossible as you are consumed by thoughts/fears.

Lifestyle choices like naps, irregular sleeping patterns, and working on a laptop or phone close to when you are going to sleep can cause insomnia as well. Even certain foods and drinks can have a negative impact on your sleep. For example, drinks that have caffeine and are consumed up to 8 hours before going to sleep may cause insomnia.

Seeking therapy for insomnia may be helpful in decreasing symptoms. Typically, therapy will teach the patient how to replace negative thoughts as well as problem solving techniques in order to alleviate sleeping issues. Similarly, certain medications can be prescribed to help restore regular sleeping patterns if the insomnia is severe and has a long-term pattern.

If you or someone you know needs support for insomnia, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .


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Sonya Cheema

A typical adult gets between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, but it varies from person to person. Those who struggle to get this amount of sleep may suffer from the sleep disorder, insomnia. Some people may experience acute insomnia, which lasts for a few days or weeks. Others may suffer from chronic insomnia, which can last a month or more. If you suspect you or a loved one has insomnia, look for these symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
  • Irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, or remembering
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Ongoing worries about sleep

If you or a loved one experience many of these symptoms, it may be wise to seek professional help. If serious enough, insomnia can drastically affect your everyday life. In the meantime, some tips that may help alleviate your insomnia are:

  • Keeping your bed time and wake time consistent day to day
  • Avoid or limit naps
  • Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex
  • Create a relaxing night time ritual, such as taking a bath, reading, listening to music, etc.

If you or a person you know is struggling with insomnia, it may be beneficial to contact a mental health professional and receive therapy. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit for more information.


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