Insomnia Causes & the Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Insomnia is no fun. If you have it, you know what I'm talking about. The hours lying in bed, looking at the ceiling, or worse your cell phone, waiting for your alarm to go off. Or it’s on the couch with a bag of chips mindlessly staring at the TV, watching I Love Lucy reruns.

Insomnia is a very real condition that negatively affects millions of Americans every year. It inevitably leads to sleep deprivation and If it goes on long enough, you could experience hallucinations and impact both your physical and mental health.

The most serious problems associated with prolonged insomnia and sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

The good news is there are ways to reverse your sleepless nights. But before you can find answers to your sleep problems, you need to know what’s going on.

What is Insomnia

Insomnia is one of many a sleep disorders affecting millions of people. Simply put, one of the most common insomnia symptoms is the inability to sleep. This can be unable to fall asleep at night, or the inability to fall back asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Insomnia is probably more common than you think. Depending on who you talk to, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of people occasionally struggle with insomnia symptoms. 10 percent of people have chronic insomnia, where they’re consistently unable to sleep.

Insomnia is not just a lack of sleep. You can have a lack of sleep for a variety of reasons, working an extra job, staying out late to be with friends, studying or tending to the needs of a family.

What sets insomnia apart from the lack of sleep is choice. People who have insomnia are not choosing to stay awake. They want to fall asleep, but their body does not let them.

Insomnia Symptoms

There are more insomnia symptoms beyond trouble falling or staying asleep. You may have insomnia if you:

  • Find yourself awake for much of the night
  • Wake up feeling like you did not sleep at all
  • Only sleep for short periods
  • Lie awake for a long time before you fall asleep
  • Wake up too early

Insomnia symptoms often lead to you being tired during the day. That can lead to a difficulty concentrating on work or school. Insomnia problems can also lead to anxiety and depression.

Identifying Insomnia causes

There can be several reasons why you have insomnia. The reasons can change depending on whether you have occasional or chronic insomnia.

People who have chronic insomnia may have underlying issues that are causing their sleep deprivation.

Some of the most common chronic insomnia causes are:

Poor sleep habits. Whether this is by choice or brought on through current circumstances, it can interfere with your sleep cycle.

If you can identify with any of the poor sleep habits below, you should reevaluate those habits and look to make corrections:

  • Have an irregular or inconsistent bedtime schedule
  • An uncomfortable bed or sleeping arrangements
  • Snore or sleep with someone who snores
  • Use your bed for activities besides sleeping (watching TV, eating, work)
  • Stimulating activities before bed

Work, school or travel schedule. If your responsibilities make it difficult for you to have good sleep habits, this schedule can disrupt your internal clock. This internal clock is present in just about all living things. If you disrupt that clock, it can lead to insomnia.

Some of the most common ways people disrupt the clock are:

  • Jet lag
  • Working the late shift
  • Working the early shift
  • Constantly changing shifts

Stress. Many people who experience sleep deprivation say it’s because they cannot turn off their brains. Concerns about finances, school, family, work, health can make it hard for your brain to wind down for the night. Other life events like a death in the family, a family member dealing with a serious illness, losing a job or marital problems can be extremely stressful and lead to insomnia.

Snoring and other breathing problems. The first time you sleep next to, or within earshot of someone who snores, you know it’s hard to fall asleep. But snoring impacts more than the other people in the room or home. It can take a serious toll on the person who snores. There can be several reasons someone snores, but they all tie back to breathing difficulties.

Whether you’re the snorer or (try to) sleep in the same room/home with someone who snores, you know how hard it is. If a solution to snoring is not found, it can cause insomnia.

Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. People often wake up in the middle of the night sweating and out of breath. This sleeping disorder can happen often or occasionally and can prevent you from getting uninterrupted sleep.

Mental health disorders. Whether it’s anxiety, PTSD or depression, all of them can disrupt your sleep and lead to insomnia.

Medication. For some medication commercials, the list of potential side effects takes up more time than the list of benefits. Among the side effects is lack of sleep. Prescription drugs for blood pressure, asthma and antidepressants can all lead to sleep problems.

Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine. Stimulants and depressants can also have a negative influence on your sleep. Drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and soda either late in the day or at night can keep you from falling asleep. Nicotine has a similar result to caffeine.

Alcohol is a depressant that can help you fall asleep, but for many people, it keeps them from reaching a deep sleep. That often leads to waking up in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep.

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a common public health problem. Nearly 40 percent of adults say, within the last month, they fell asleep during the day without meaning to.

Some of the signs and complications of sleep depression can be expressed in short and long term health risks.

Short-term signs include:

  • Decreased performance
  • Decreased Alertness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Relationship problems
  • Poor quality of life
  • Risk of workplace injury
  • Car crash due to drowsy driving

Long-term signs include:

Mental impairment

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Increased mortality rate

Solutions to Insomnia

Knowing the serious short and long-term risks associated with insomnia and sleep deprivation, know there are solutions to solve your sleep problems.

Sometimes the most obvious answers are not only the easiest, but can produce great results.

Whether it’s a street light, the moon, or other house lights outside your window that keep you up at night, blocking out that light can make a world of difference.

A sleeping mask is a great buy for people who can link their sleepless nights to light. The ZenMask from ZenSleep is the best on the market.

It blocks out 100 percent of the light. What sets it apart is how it contours to your nose without putting pressure on your eyes. The velcro straps allow you to adjust the mask to fit your head. No need to compromise comfort with the ZenMask.

zen maskzenmask

If you struggle with poor sleep habits or a work schedule that is inconsistent, then recognizing it is your first step in the right direction. Take the time to evaluate what habits cause the biggest problems. Start at the top of the list and find a workable solution to that habit. Don’t try to change everything all at once.

When you master one bad habit, move to the next. You’ll find you don’t have to sacrifice everything to solve your sleep problems.

For people who lie awake staring at their partner who is a loud snorer, you have a few options. If they believe their snoring is a problem and are willing to make changes, then recommend to them the quiet snoring solution called ZenGuard. It promises to stop snoring the first night.

zen guard

If you cannot convince your partner to try it, or you have no ability to control the snoring, the next best thing is for you to find a way to block out the loud noise. If you’re using a pillow to smother your head and ears, there are better ways that are less stuffy.

Ear plugs, specifically ZenSleep’s ZenPlugs, are an excellent way to reduce the noise from snoring. This comfortable solution will help you fall asleep in no time.

Identifying your insomnia causes and insomnia symptoms can start with some life changes, self-evaluation and a few specialized, clinically proven products. Other more serious reasons could require a doctor to diagnose and treat. Find what solution works for you.


Insomnia is not only not fun, the sleep deprivation that can come from it can create serious health issues. Do not spend one more sleepless night staring at the ceiling waiting for your alarm. Take the necessary steps today to improve your sleep tonight

For more information on insomnia and other sleep disorder visit:

How to Identify Sleep Disorders, Symptoms & Treatment

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