Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is called insomnia. Most people have experienced insomnia at some time in their lives; not infrequently, the difficulty is short-term, resolving spontaneously or when the offending causes are dealt with.
However, when insomnia fails to resolve quickly, it can have serious effects on your quality of life. For example, chronic insomnia can result in long-term impairment in family, social, occupational, academic, and/or other important areas of life.
There are literally hundreds of potential causes of insomnia, a very short list of which includes the following:
• A large number of medical, psychological, and behavioral disorders
• An individual’s fear of sleeplessness and the associated feeling of loss of control
• Conditioned anxiety or arousal to one’s usual bedroom/bedtime
• Hundreds of medications and drugs, including caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
• Attempts to decrease the use of/discontinue any of the aforementioned societally-sanctioned drugs
• Significant life changes such as divorce, the loss of a job or a loved one
• Inadequate “sleep hygiene”
• Chronic depressive episodes
• Boredom, and/or anxiety
• Sleep disorders, including narcolepsy, Restless Legs Syndrome, disorders associated with the timing of sleep, shift work, chronic nightmares, etc.