Insomnia Causes and Risk Factors

Changes in your schedule or environment can cause or raise your risk of insomnia. Some risk factors, such as your job or lifestyle, can be changed. But your age and family history cannot be changed.


You can develop insomnia at any age but your chances of having it increase as you get older.

Family history and genetics

Your  genes  may raise your risk of insomnia, as insomnia sometimes runs in families. Your genes may also affect whether you are a deep or light sleeper.

Environment or occupation

The following can disturb your sleep-wake cycle, a pattern that your body uses to figure out when to sleep and when to be awake:

  • Shift or night work
  • Noise or light during the night
  • Uncomfortably high or low temperatures

Traveling often to different time zones.


Lifestyle habits can raise your risk of sleep problems.

  • Changing your normal routine often, including your sleep schedule
  • Experiencing interruptions in your sleep, such as waking up often to care for a baby
  • Taking long naps during the day
  • Getting too little physical activity during the day
  • Using caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or recreational drugs
  • Watching TV or using electronic devices close to your bedtime


Stress or worrying about school or work, relationships, money, or the death of a loved one raises your risk of insomnia.

Worrying about whether you will get enough sleep and watching the clock can also raise your risk of insomnia or make it worse.


Insomnia is more common in women than in men. hormones  changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause can cause problems with sleep.

Can I prevent insomnia?

Your doctor may talk to you about steps you can take to help you sleep better and prevent chronic insomnia.

  • Adopt healthy sleep habits and a regular daytime schedule to help you maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to your bedtime, as these can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Learn more about healthy sleep habits that may help prevent or manage insomnia.

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