Trouble Sleeping Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand trouble sleeping symptoms, including 9 causes & common questions.

  1. 9 Possible Trouble Sleeping Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Trouble Sleeping FAQ
  4. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  5. Statistics
  6. Related Articles

9 Possible Trouble Sleeping Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced trouble sleeping. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Insomnia disorder

Insomnia disorder is a short-term or chronic condition whereby individuals have difficulty

sleeping. Other common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty with concentration, social

dysfunction, reduced motivation, and behavioral changes. The short-term form of

the condition is usually ...

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Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, work, and friendships.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, headache, anxiety, irritability

Symptoms that always occur with depression: depressed mood

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a relatively common condition, especially in obese adults. It refers to obstruction (blockage) of the airway during sleep. This obstruction is usually caused by the back of the tongue and the muscles of the palate relaxing and falling ...

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Fibromyalgia is a set of chronic symptoms that include ongoing fatigue, diffuse tenderness to touch, musculoskeletal pain, and usually some degree of depression.

The cause is not known. When fibromyalgia appears, it is usually after a stressful physical or emotional event such as an automobile accident or a divorce. It may include a genetic component where the person experiences normal sensation as pain.

Almost 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Anyone with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more prone to fibromyalgia.

Poor sleep is often a symptom, along with foggy thinking, headaches, painful menstrual periods, and increased sensitivity to heat, cold, bright lights, and loud noises.

There is no standard test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made when the above symptoms go on for three months or more with no apparent cause.

Fibromyalgia does not go away on its own but does not get worse, either.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache

Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia: arthralgias or myalgias

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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Recurrent depression

Depression, once diagnosed, can often recur with new episodes. Sometimes these episodes can be similar to ones in the past, sometimes the symptoms can be different. It's good to be aware off the fact that people who had a depression before, remain vulnerable.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, headache, stomach bloating

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Symptoms of menopause

Menopause is the name for the natural process by which the menstrual cycle (period) stops happening in a woman. Usually, the process is gradual (takes months or years) and occurs from the age of 45 to 55 years. Menopause is officially diagnosed once a woman stops having a period for 12 months continuously. A woman with menopause will notice a decrease in the number and regularity of her periods until they completely stop. In addition, she may notice a number of symptoms that occur as a result of decreased estrogen levels, such as hot flashes, changes in mood, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, changes in libido, and changes in sexual function. Certain medications exist that can decrease these symptoms.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal discharge, anxiety, trouble sleeping

Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause: delay in or irregular periods

Urgency: Self-treatment

Generalized anxiety disorder (gad)

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. Generalized anxiety disorder refers to ongoing feelings of worry and anxiousness that persists for at least six months. Generalized anxiety disorder seems to run in families, making some individuals more vulnerable to stressors than others.

Symptoms include constant feelings of worry over both major and everyday events, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, feeling tired, irritability, as well as physical symptoms, such as headaches and body aches.

The diagnosis is made by patient history and physical examination to rule out physical causes. The individual may be referred to a mental health specialist for further evaluation and treatment, which may involve talk therapy to learn new ways to manage stress, medications, and lifestyle adjustments.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, trouble sleeping, general anxiety (stress), irritability, nausea

Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad): general anxiety (stress)

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Periodic limb movement disorder

Periodic limb movement disorder is a sleep disease that causes random limb movements during sleep. There is no known cause.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, trouble sleeping, daytime sleepiness, restless legs

Symptoms that always occur with periodic limb movement disorder: trouble sleeping

Symptoms that never occur with periodic limb movement disorder: spontaneous loss of muscle control, sleep paralysis

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that can produce emotional and physical symptoms in women in the days leading up to their menstrual cycle. Common symptoms include bloating, cramping, headaches, irritability, fatigue, and sleep and appetite changes. These symptoms...

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Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

FAQs About Trouble Sleeping

Here are some frequently asked questions about trouble sleeping.

Why do I have trouble sleeping at night but not during the day?

A lot of things can cause trouble sleeping at night but not during the day. This can occur if you have a job that requires night shifts, leading to a change in sleep habits called shift work sleep disorder. Additionally, chronically poor sleep hygiene and sleep habits can lead to this symptom. Some other things that may cause trouble sleeping at night and daytime sleepiness include stress, depression, concussion, dementia, and some chronic systemic diseases.

Can stress cause trouble sleeping?

Yes, stress commonly causes trouble sleeping. When you are stressed, your body is in fight or flight mode you are wide awake, your heart is racing, and you cannot settle down. While some stress is good, too much stress leaves you hyper-aroused and will make it difficult to relax and fall into a deep sleep. Worse, you can become even more stressed about your inability to sleep, further compounding the stress. Stress reduction techniques are often used by sleep therapists to help people fall asleep.

Why do I have trouble sleeping after drinking alcohol?

Alcohol use does not reduce the duration of your sleep, but it is known to significantly reduce its quality. Sleep is complicated with various stages and a specific architecture that must occur to ensure you feel well-rested and function optimally during the day. Alcohol use or withdrawal from alcohol dependence may disrupt the regenerative rapid eye movement (REM) stage of your sleep and leave you feeling groggy and exhausted.

Why do I have trouble sleeping when I have my period?

The time around your period is marked by significant shifts in the reproductive system hormones. These hormones have a variety of effects on your body, both physical and mental. Alterations in estrogen and progesterone levels can lead to you having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. These shifts can cause mood changes as well, which may also diminish sleep.

Is trouble sleeping a sign of early pregnancy?

Many women find they have difficulty sleeping during pregnancy. This is usually due to hormonal fluctuations which disturb your ability to sleep as well as physical discomforts. Trouble sleeping, however, can occur as a result of many conditions. If you suspect you are pregnant, you should consider taking a pregnancy test or visiting your healthcare provider.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Trouble Sleeping

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?
  • Are you having difficulty concentrating or thinking through daily activities?
  • Are your symptoms causing difficulty at work, socializing, or spending time with friends & family?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

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Trouble Sleeping Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced trouble sleeping have also experienced:

  • 7% Fatigue
  • 3% Headache
  • 3% Nausea

People who have experienced trouble sleeping were most often matched with:

  • 40% Depression
  • 30% Insomnia Disorder
  • 30% Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

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