Insomnia in adults: symptoms, causes, treatment

Novikov Maxim

Physician-therapist, somnologist

Novikov Maxim

Experience 13 year

Doctor of the highest category. Member of the European Respiratory Society and the Russian Respiratory Society

Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder. A healthy person should have 7-8 hours of sleep a night, with normal sleep occurring during the night hours and followed by wakefulness during the daytime hours. The liveliness hours should be during business hours, this is required by the structure of life around a person. When people do not get enough sleep at night, they begin to perform worse during the day. This is most pronounced among intellectual workers. Concentration is also impaired, which increases the risk of injuries and accidents. Chronic insomnia is the most dangerous type of disease. Because it has a negative effect on the human body and its reactions. Irritability, nervousness, malaise, low immunity and memory impairment are just a small list of the possible effects of insomnia.

This disorder normally manifests itself as a lack of sleep during the night hours. In this case, a patient has the intention to fall asleep, but he/she does not succeed. Medicine interprets sleep disorder in the form of insomnia much more broadly, focusing not just on the length of sleep, but also on its quality. Often upon awakening, a person does not get enough sleep and suffers from insomnia by morning. This also includes difficulties in the process of falling asleep. It is considered normal to fall asleep in 15 minutes, while a sleep disorder stretches this period for several hours.

Sleep disorder in adults in the form of very early awakening is one type of insomnia. This also includes post-traumatic failures - tiredness after a full night's sleep, weakness and lethargy.

Symptoms and signs

The main feature of the disease is the lack of a restorative sleep phase.

Symptoms of sleep disorders are varied:

  • difficulties with falling asleep - the eternal search for a comfortable position, shifting the blanket, etc;
  • awakening in the middle of the night and subsequent lack of sleep;
  • daytime sleepiness, irritability and anxiety;
  • awakening more than half an hour earlier than the scheduled time and the inability to return to sleep. In this case, an important condition is the duration of sleep, by the time of awakening it does not exceed 6.5 hours.

Causes and development

The causes of insomnia are symptomatic or mental and somatic

The most common risk factors for the development of pathology are:

  • stress and nervous overload;
  • chronic pain;
  • cardiac arrest and hyperthyroidism;
  • heartburn and restlessness in the legs;
  • menopause;
  • exposure to drugs or other substances, such as caffeine or nicotine, alcohol;
  • night shift work and apnea.

Depression is an independent cause of insomnia. As this condition causes defects in the functioning of the adrenal glands, pituitary gland and hypothalamus, too much cortisol is released into the bloodstream, which disrupts sleep quality.

Other causes of sleep disorders include:

  • the use of psychoactive substances - psychostimulants: herbs, cocaine, drugs, amphetamines, aripiprazole, modafinil and others;
  • performing thoracic operations on the chest and heart;
  • sleep breathing disorders due to a deviated septum in the nose.

Why is insomnia caused by restless legs? The presence of discomfort causes a desire to shift the legs from place to place in search of a comfortable position, resulting in uncontrolled excitement in the body during sleep. The same principle applies to pain or injury.

Insomnia occurs for the following reasons:

  • hormonal changes before menstruation or menopause;
  • life events - shocks, fears and anxieties, stress, emotional and mental overload, difficulties at work or in finances;
  • disorders of the digestive tract - constipation, diarrhea, heartburn and others;
  • neurological disorders of the central nervous system and brain;
  • mental disorders - increased anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress, attention deficit, hyperactivity and others;
  • lack of sleep hygiene - noise, coffee before going to bed;
  • physical overload - sportsmen suffer more often;
  • genetic predisposition to a rare disease - no more than 40 families worldwide.

Circadian rhythms can be disrupted by working in shifts. People of all ages and all sexes are at risk of developing the pathology.

The most common risk groups:

  • age over 60;
  • excessive emotionality people;
  • change of time zones;
  • night shift work;
  • mental health disorders.


Complications of insomnia:

  • increased risk of developing chronic diseases;
  • violation of the immune system;
  • obesity;
  • slow reactions;
  • decrease in labor productivity;
  • mental disorders.

When should you see a doctor?

What to do about insomnia? This question is asked very typically by people. Going to the doctor is the easiest and best answer. Consultation can be obtained from a general practitioner, a neurologist or a special doctor - somnologist. They will examine the cause of your problem. Then, if necessary, they will prescribe tests. Then, based on the findings, they will solve it with effective and safe methods. At our clinic you can get a consultation with any of these specialists.


The diagnosis of insomnia is made on a special scale based on 8 different parameters related to sleep in one way or another. Collection of anamnesis data and physical examination allow excluding other conditions of pathology development.

Diagnosis involves compiling a sleep history, including sleep habits and medications or other substances taken. To this end, the patient should keep a sleep diary to facilitate sleep patterns. The diary should include data on the time of falling asleep and waking up, the length of sleep, the number of awakenings, the number of medications taken and their effects, and other feelings of the patient at night and in the morning. An alternative to the diary is becoming an ambulatory procedure called actigraphy. It is a weekly check-up with non-invasive devices that measure movements. If insomnia is symptomatic, diagnosis is aimed at identifying the underlying illness. After all, the treatment of insomnia will depend on the success of the provocateur factor.


The first step in the treatment of sleep disorders is lifestyle modification and sleep hygiene. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy fits in perfectly. What to do with symptomatic insomnia? Find the causes and treat them first. Mostly, special sleeping pills are prescribed as a short-term treatment of insomnia. Insomnia pills give you the ability to control your sleep.

Music is perceived as a remedy for insomnia. Special training can become a cure for insomnia. Self-help is based on the use of psychological training. How to deal with insomnia? One method is forced wakefulness. This means that instead of trying to fall asleep, a person should do everything not to fall asleep. In this way, brain activity is reprogrammed.

Prevention and prognosis

Measures to prevent insomnia:

  • creating sleep stability - a stable time for falling asleep and waking up;
  • no vigorous movement and no caffeine intake a couple of hours before bedtime;
  • morning workout;
  • comfort in the sleeping room - coolness and darkness;
  • sleep hygiene - the principles of proper and healthy sleep: positive sleeping environment, minimizing daytime sleep, regularity and effectiveness of episodes, minimizing the effects of harmful substances, reducing the effects of medication, etc.

You can make an appointment with the specialists of JSC "Medicine" (Academician Roytberg Clinic) in the center of Moscow ("Mayakovskaya" underground station) by calling +7 (495) 126-13-12 (24/7), by filling out an application form on the website or at the clinic administration desk at the address: Moscow, the 2nd Tverskoy-Yamskoy Lane, building 10.

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