Why would insomnia appear to start from one day to the next?

This question was asked in Misquamicut, Rhode Island on 09/04/2012.
I went from sleeping fairly well one night to repeated nights of insomnia. What could cause this fluctuation in my sleeping pattern?

Doctors Answers (3)

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 9/10/2012

Chronic insomnia could be perpetuated by many things including stress, diet, excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, certain medication side effects and poor sleep hygiene or change in sleep environment. Talk to a sleep specialist about your problem and try to keep a diary of your sleep over several weeks consecutively to try and pinpoint what may be going on. They may be able to give several suggestions to help you get more consistent sleep at night.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 9/10/2012

Insomnia is defined as the inability to sleep PLUS the adverse effects the next day. In other words, if you only slept for 2 hours one night and felt just fine the next day then you did not suffer from insomnia. Also, insomnia is not the same as sleep deprivation (staying up to study or attending to a baby, etc.) Why insomnia appears one night out the blue must be analyzed from every aspect. Did something occur that day? Change in weather, noise, stress, medication, temperature in the room, an anniversary of an event, etc. Then, did you feel the effect of the loss of sleep the next day? If none of the above can explain the sudden onset of insomnia you may have what we can primary insomnia. This is the type for which there is no explanation. It is also the type that responds more favorably to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a combination of techniques such as biofeedback, relaxation and imaging. Lastly, there are medical disorders such as Bipolar states which are associated with sleeplessness. This is not insomnia, this is simply part of the medial disorder.

Marjorie Yong, M.D.
Answered on: 9/5/2012 9

Different meds or foods can worsen your sleep pattern. You will need to be evaluated by a sleep doctor and have a sleep test.