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Sleep science

What causes chronic insomnia?

What causes chronic insomnia? Well in clinic as a sleep clinician I often get told, “my sleep problem has been caused by menopause”, or by high stress at work, or an illness, or a life event.

It doesn’t really matter – there are many things that could cause you to have asleep problem, but the problem is actually the perpetuating factors.

These are the things that then make that original trigger a long-term chronic issue. These are very different; so it is true that those triggers can cause you to have a sleep problem. But what causes that to then carry on?

It’s actually the habitual nature of waking up at night.

For example, from going through menopause we may get night sweats and wake up in the middle of the night…

Yes, the night sweats interrupted your sleep, but at the point where you can no longer get back to sleep and now you’re having sleepless nights, not just interrupted nights, that is the habitual problem. That is the bit that is very different and is being reinforced.

Then, it leads to a chronic condition on top of the original cause and the original sleep problem.

So, now you’ve got a chronic condition – chronic insomnia.