Onset Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Onset Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More

Insomnia is a common problem affecting millions of people around the globe. Many people suffer from sleep disorders, such as Insomnia, where they experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

There are several types of Insomnia (maintenance insomnia), each with its causes and symptoms. Insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, medical conditions, medications, or other health problems.

In this blog post, we will discuss Onset Insomnia, a type of Insomnia. We'll cover what it is, how it affects you, and how to treat it.

What Is Onset Insomnia?

Onset insomnia is a condition that occurs when your body starts producing more than enough melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm (the biological clock). 
This excess melatonin production makes it difficult for your brain to fall asleep.
Onset insomnia usually happens in the early hours of the morning. It often begins abruptly, without any warning. You may feel tired during the day but still able to function normally. 
However, once you go to bed at night, you cannot get out of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
The most common symptom of onset insomnia is feeling groggy and unrefreshed. Your mind feels foggy and unfocused. You may also have trouble concentrating.
The good news is that onset insomnia doesn't last very long. It only lasts about an hour. After that, your body naturally produces less melatonin, allowing you to fall back into a deep sleep.

What Is Onset Insomnia

Acute and chronic onset insomnia differ slightly.

Acute onset insomnia refers to a sudden change in your sleep schedule. For example, if you wake up every night at 3:00 AM and then suddenly stop sleeping until noon, you would have acute insomnia
Chronic onset insomnia means that your sleep pattern has been disrupted over time. If you regularly wake up at 3:00 AM every night, you have chronic Insomnia.

How Does Onset Insomnia Affect You?

Onset insomnia has a significant impact on your life. If you wake up every few hours during the night, it disrupts your ability to rest and recover.
It also negatively impacts your work performance. 
When you’re not well-rested, you’re likely to make mistakes and perform poorly. And if you’re working late, you won’t be able to focus effectively.
You may even start having nightmares and experiencing vivid dreams. These disturbing experiences can cause you to lose sleep over them.

Onset insomnia with RLS or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)

People who have restless legs syndrome (RLS) or periodic limb movement disorder(PLMD) are especially vulnerable to developing onset insomnia.
Uncomfortable sensations in your legs characterize RLS. 
The sensations can range from mild tingling to burning pain. They tend to occur while you're trying to relax.
PLMD involves repetitive movements in your limbs. These movements can include jerking, twitching, or shaking. People with PLMD may notice these involuntary movements while they’re sleeping.
Most people with RLS and PLMD don’t realize that their symptoms are related to their sleep. But because onset insomnia tends to happen suddenly, it’s easy to confuse it with RLS or PLMD.
If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can help determine whether your symptoms are due to RLS or PLMD and whether you should see a specialist.

Onset insomnia

Other Sleep Disorders That Can Cause Onset Insomnia

Several other conditions can lead to the Onset Insomnia. Here are some examples:
Narcolepsy – A condition where you have episodes of a sudden loss of muscle tone called cataplexy. During these episodes, you may collapse or become paralyzed.
Hypersomnolence – An inability to stay awake.
Chronic fatigue syndrome – A chronic illness that causes extreme exhaustion.
Depression – A mood disorder that affects how you think, act and feel.
Anxiety disorders – A group of mental health problems including panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety.
Seasonal affective disorder – A type of depression that occurs when the weather changes.
Parkinson’s disease – A neurological disorder that makes it difficult for you to control your muscles.
Alzheimer’s disease – This progressive disease weakens your memory and thinking skills.
Multiple sclerosis – A disease that affects your nervous system. It can cause tremors, dizziness, vision problems, and difficulty walking.
Fibromyalgia – A condition that causes widespread pain throughout your body.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing that happens after women reach 50. It can cause hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.

How to know which type of Insomnia you have?

It's essential to understand what kind of Insomnia (childhood insomnia) you have before trying to treat it. You might have more than one type of Insomnia at once.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your sleep patterns:
  • When do you usually go to bed?
  • Do you wake up early or late?
  • How often do you get less than 6 hours of sleep per day?
  • Do you feel tired during the day?
  • If so, does this happen every day or just on certain days?
  • Are there times when you feel alert and energetic? Do you take naps?
  • What kinds of things make you sleepy?
  • Do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke cigarettes?
  • Do you use caffeine?
  • What time do you eat dinner?
  • Do you exercise regularly?
  • How much physical activity do you get each week?
  • What is your usual nighttime routine?
  • Do you watch TV or read before going to bed?
  • Do you listen to music?
  • Do you meditate?
  • Do you snore?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep?
  • Do you have a regular sleeping schedule?
  • Do you wake up in the middle of the night?
  • Do you have trouble staying asleep?
  • Do you have trouble getting back to sleep if you wake up?
  • Do you have nightmares?
  • Does your partner complain that you don’t seem well-rested?
  • Is your job performance affected by lack of sleep?
  • Does your work suffer because you don’t get enough rest?
If you’ve been diagnosed with onset insomnia, there are some lifestyle changes you should consider making. 
For example:
  • Try to avoid caffeine afternoon. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, causing you to stay awake longer.
  • Avoid alcohol before going to bed. Alcohol relaxes muscles, so it can keep you awake.
  • Don’t use sleeping pills. They contain sedatives that prevent your body from releasing natural hormones that regulate your sleep cycle.
  • Keep your bedroom cool. A room temperature between 60°F and 65°F helps promote sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity boosts your energy levels and reduces stress.
  • Get plenty of sunlight. Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of happiness and calmness. Serotonin also suppresses the release of cortisol, a stress-related hormone.
  • Reduce exposure to bright light. Exposure to artificial lights such as computer screens, televisions, and smartphones can interfere with your sleep cycle.
Do you use caffeine

    Treating Onset Insomnia

    Treating onset insomnia isn’t easy. The problem is that the symptoms don’t always come right away. Sometimes they take several days or weeks to appear.
    That means you need to catch the problem early. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. 
    Because onset insomnia rarely causes any physical signs or symptoms, many people aren’t aware that they have it until they experience poor sleep quality.
    That's why it's essential to pay attention to your sleep habits. If you notice anything unusual, talk to your doctor. They will help you determine whether you have onset insomnia.
    Once you know what’s wrong, you can treat it by following these tips:
    • Go to bed at the same time each night. It helps your body adjust to a regular schedule.
    • Follow a consistent sleep routine. Make sure you get enough sleep each day.
    • Avoid naps during the day. Napping in the afternoon makes it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
    • Use the bathroom before you go to bed. Eliminating bodily functions before bedtime prevents nighttime urination.
    • Avoid using stimulants like coffee, tea, chocolate, and cigarettes within three hours of bedtime. Stimulants increase alertness and can delay your sleep cycle.
    • Do something relaxing before bedtime. Spend some time reading, listening to music, meditating, or watching TV.
    • Consider taking melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical found in your body that regulates your sleep cycle.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I deal with Insomnia myself? Can I "get over it"?

    Yes! You can deal with Insomnia yourself. However, if you want to make lasting improvements, you may need professional treatment.
    You can learn how to improve your sleep without medication. Here are some things to try:
    • Try different positions while you sleep. Sleeping on your back can cause shoulder pain. Sleeping on your stomach can lead to acid reflux. Sleeping on your side can reduce snoring.
    • Create an environment that encourages sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, comfortable, and free from distractions.
    • Take a warm bath before bedtime. Warm baths relax muscles and ease tension.
    • Eat smaller meals earlier in the day. Eating small meals throughout the day reduces hunger pangs and decreases cravings for food later in the evening.
    • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise improves circulation and boosts energy levels. It also increases endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers.

    Is anxiety connected to Insomnia?

    Anxiety disorders often coexist with Insomnia. Insomnia itself can trigger anxiety attacks.
    If you have Insomnia, you may find it challenging to cope with anxiety. That's because Insomnia can disrupt your ability to think clearly. 
    When you feel anxious, you tend to focus on the negative aspects. As a result, you become more likely to worry about problems that don't exist.
    If you struggle with Insomnia, you may benefit from therapy. 
    Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches you ways to control your thoughts and feelings. CBT can help you manage anxiety and develop coping skills.


    Insomnia affects millions of people worldwide. If you have trouble sleeping, you aren't alone. But you don't have to live with sleepless nights. With proper treatment, you can overcome Insomnia. Onset insomnia shouldn't define your life.

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