Sleep Care

Secondary Insomnia

Insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep, can have a number of causes. It can be a sleep disorder itself, or it can be caused by any number of factors. When the insomnia is a result of another medical condition, a side-effect of a drug, or another similar cause, it is called secondary insomnia.

Some potential causes of secondary insomnia include:

Conditions that cause pain, ie. arthritis, back pain.

Sleep disorders, like Restless Leg Syndrome or Sleep Apnea.

Emotional disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or dementia.

Conditions that make breathing difficult, like asthma or heart failure.

Certain medications, including allergy and cold medications and some beta blockers.

Hormonal changes, including those involved in menstruation and menopause.

Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

Other conditions that might disrupt sleep, such as Tinnitus.

Secondary insomnia is the most common form of insomnia, and it is estimated that as many as 8 out of every 10 cases of this disorder is secondary to some other cause. The symptoms of secondary insomnia

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are the same as those for primary insomnia, including excessive daytime sleepiness, anxiety, depression, and the inability to focus or concentrate.

Treatment for secondary insomnia varies depending

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on the underlying cause. In many cases, the insomnia will resolve itself once the underlying issue is treated. For instance, if the insomnia is caused by chronic pain, then managing that pain may allow the patient to sleep better. If commonly ingested substances like caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol are the cause of the insomnia, limiting or eliminating those drugs can end the insomnia.

In the case of medical side effects, patients experiencing secondary insomnia should discuss this with their doctor. There may be other medications to try that can treat the other illness that do not cause insomnia as a side effect. If changing medications does not alleviate the insomnia, or if changing medications is not feasible, alternatives like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be tried. Recent research has shown that CBT is effective in helping to alleviate secondary insomnia.

In any case, improving sleep hygiene may also help combat the effects of secondary insomnia. By maintaining appropriate sleep habits, people can help decrease the stress and anxiety around bed time and help increase their chances of getting a restful night’s sleep.

To view products and treatments for Insomnia and related issues, click here.