What causes insomnia?

Why can’t I get to sleep?

Some people suffer from sleep disorders (like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome) that make sleeplessness an ongoing problem. But for most of us who experience sleepless nights or periods of insomnia, the reasons can be subtle (but perhaps just as difficult to control). Here are a few things that can affect our sleep:

Too much caffeine—from drinking coffee, tea, or colas

Nicotine—it stimulates the central nervous system

Stress, anxiety, or depression

Changes in lifestyle, like a move or a new job

Shift work alters our internal rhythms

Working at night disrupts our circadian rhythm. People who work night shifts usually try to sleep or have to sleep at a time when their bodies are cued to be awake.

Shift work

Environmental factors, such as noise


Hormonal changes

Any of these factors can be a sleep thief. Certain prescription medications can also have an effect on overall sleep quality.

Insomnia is defined as:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep and/or staying asleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Trouble sleeping despite adequate opportunity for sleep

Insomnia is also characterized by at least one of the following, which may occur during the day:

  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Mood disturbance or irritability
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Errors or accidents while working or driving
  • Tension headaches

Insomnia can be acute or chronic. Acute insomnia is a short-term problem that is generally the result of stress or change (new job, final exams, illness). It generally lasts only a few nights or a few weeks, and an over-the-counter sleep aid may help you relieve occasional nighttime sleeplessness. To find out more about Unisom® products, click here.

Chronic insomnia is a long-term problem in which a person experiences poor sleep or not enough sleep for at least 30 days. If this describes you, see a physician or a sleep specialist.

Insomnia symptoms: How do you know if you’re suffering from insomnia?

Take this quick test

If you answer yes, to any of the following questions, you may have insomnia. Talk to your pharmacist or physician to find out how you can get back to sleep.

  • Does it take you a long time to get to sleep?
  • Do you wake up often during the night and then struggle to fall asleep again?
  • Do you fall asleep while watching TV or reading but find it difficult to fall asleep when you get into bed?
  • Do you lie in bed and worry about your schedule tomorrow, a problem you’re having or the fact that you’re not sleeping?
  • Are you undergoing a change in your life or feeling some emotional stress?
  • Do you feel anxious or depressed?

How can Unisom® sleep aids help?

Unisom® sleep aids are indicated for the relief of occasional nighttime sleeplessness due to overwork or fatigue.

Unisom® helps reduce difficulty falling asleep.