Inability to fall asleep, inability to stay asleep

Types of Insomnia

  • Transient insomnia - inability to sleep well over a period of a few nights. Usually brought on by excitement or stress.
  • Short-term insomnia - Periods of ongoing stress at work or at home can result in two to three weeks of poor sleep. When stress subsides, sleep usually returns to normal.
  • Chronic Insomnia - Poor sleep every night or most nights.

Causes of Insomnia

  • Some people seem more likely than others to experience insomnia during times of stress
  • Persistent stress such as a troubled marriage or chronic illness
  • Psychiatric problems - Awakenings earlier than desired is one of the most common symptoms of depression
  • Lifestyle:
    • Use of caffeine near bedtime, even if it doesn't interfere with onset of sleep, can trigger awakenings later in the night. Nicotine is also a stimulant and smokers may take longer to fall asleep.
    • Although alcohol can induce sleep, is likely to make sleep more fragile throughout the sleep.
    • Erratic Hours can disrupt the bodies ability to sleep.
    • Inactive behavior during the day may make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
    • Learned Insomnia: People who sleep poorly during times of stress are likely to worry about not being able to function effectively during the day.
    • Misuse or overuse of sleeping pills: If used every night, sleeping pills stop being effective after a few weeks. When their use is stopped suddenly, sleep can be temporarily worse.
  • Environmental Factors:
    • Noise can disturb sleep even if it doesn't cause the sleeper to wake up. Such as passing traffic, airplanes or television.
    • Light comes through the eyelids even when the eyes are closed.
  • Physical Illness:
    • Breathing disorders: Sleep apnea can cause the sleeper to have frequent awakenings.
    • Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep: Can cause brief awakenings during the night.

How to Get Diagnosed

If you suffer from insomnia talk with your physician about getting diagnosed. If you do not have a physician you can be seen in our sleep clinic. Please call 563-421-1523 for more information about scheduling your appointment.


  • Your physician will start by getting a complete medical history.
  • The physician will want to speak with your bed partner or other members of your household about your sleeping and daytime behavio.r
  • To diagnose insomnia and determine the underlying cause your physician may refer you for a sleep study. You may also be referred for an MSLT if your doctor needs to assess daytime alertness.


  • If another disorder is causing the insomnia that disorder will be treated.
  • Follow sleep hygiene rules to help stabilize your sleep/wake schedule.
  • Your doctor may refer you into the insomnia program which utilizes relaxation and behavioral techniques to treat your insomnia.
  • Medications may be utilized.

Contact Us 

For more information about our sleep services, please contact:


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