Insomnia is a sleep disorder associated with a lack of sleep. It’s a common health issue that affects around 35%¹ of people in the US on some level.
Insomnia may cause you to have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. You may also wake up too early in the morning. Insomnia causes symptoms like fatigue, low energy levels, and poor concentration the next day.
Women have a higher risk of experiencing insomnia than men. However, around one in four² men over 30 have sleep apnea, which can cause insomnia. Age is also a significant risk factor for insomnia in men — older men are more likely to experience the condition.
Fortunately, many treatments can help men with insomnia get better sleep. Read on to learn more about insomnia and find out when to see a doctor.
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The main types of insomnia in men include:
Acute insomnia is a common short-term sleep disorder that lasts for a few days or weeks.
The condition can result from environmental changes, like excessive noise or light, relocation, or extreme temperatures. Stressful situations can also cause acute insomnia, such as work deadlines or relationship issues.
You may have chronic insomnia if you experience difficulty sleeping for over a month.
There are two categories: primary and secondary. Nothing specific causes primary insomnia, but secondary insomnia may result from underlying medical conditions.
The common causes of chronic insomnia include:
Onset insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by trouble initiating sleep in the short term or long term.
Psychological issues cause onset insomnia, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. You might have trouble falling asleep and wake up frequently at night. Moreover, people with onset insomnia sometimes wake up too early in the morning.
Maintenance insomnia results from chronic medical or psychological conditions such as depression or anxiety.
You may have difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the morning. People with maintenance insomnia may also worry about not being able to go back to sleep and disrupting their sleep schedule.
Sleep deprivation can last days, weeks, or months and can exhibit different symptoms, such as:
Difficulty falling asleep
Waking up during the night
Waking up too early
Fatigue and drowsiness
Irritability and anxiety
A hyperarousal state³ is typically thought to cause insomnia. This can be mental or physical and disrupts sleep in various ways.
Insomnia can also result from underlying health conditions.
Other common causes include:
Excessive worrying can keep your mind active, making it hard to fall asleep. You might be worried about family, work, relationships, finances, your health, or perhaps you have lost a loved one. Many things can cause stress.
Stress can significantly impact sleep. It triggers reactions in your body that can lead to sleeplessness. Difficulty sleeping can be stressful, so it can be hard to break the sleep–stress cycle.
Depression is another common cause of insomnia. Difficulty falling or staying asleep and oversleeping are common symptoms of depression. Insomnia itself is also thought to worsen symptoms of depression.
Older people⁴ are more susceptible to insomnia. They tend to wake up often at night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
Sleep patterns change with age, and older people have a higher risk of sleep-related problems. They are also very susceptible to medical and psychiatric conditions, such as dementia and depression. These conditions can cause sleep disorders like insomnia.
Most prescription and over-the-counter medicines — like pain-relievers, decongestants, antidepressants, and high blood pressure medications — can disrupt your sleep pattern.
Drinking coffee or alcohol in the afternoon can disrupt your sleep at night.
Alcohol can make falling asleep easy, but this hinders the deep stages of sleep at night. It also makes you likely to wake up during the night.
Nicotine and tobacco products can also interfere with sleep, as they hinder the production of sleep hormones.
Some medical conditions and their symptoms can cause insomnia, such as:
Heart and lung conditions
Obstructive sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a common cause of insomnia among men. It’s a sleep disorder that affects the breathing system. It presents as snoring and lapses in breathing, which interrupt sleep.
More men⁵ suffer from sleep apnea than women. It is commonly misdiagnosed and left untreated.
Not having a sleep schedule and positive sleep habits can cause sleep deprivation. To promote better sleep, try:
Having a set sleep schedule that you stick to
Create a relaxing bedroom environment (try candles, dim lighting, and soothing music)
Avoid distractions, like watching TV, using your mobile phone, or working from bed
Eat your last meal well before bedtime to avoid heartburn
Insomnia leads to fatigue and drowsiness during the day, making it difficult to concentrate and carry out your work and everyday tasks.
Speak to your doctor if you experience insomnia symptoms. They can give you a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan.
Dealing with insomnia can be stressful, making it hard to alleviate the problem. However, making simple lifestyle adjustments can promote restful sleep.
Depending on the severity of your insomnia, your doctor can recommend a treatment plan and prescribe medication if necessary.
Treatment options include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach that helps insomnia patients counter negative thoughts that can disrupt sleep. It is commonly used as a first-line treatment for insomnia because it is very effective.
During CBT, you will explore the connection between your thought patterns, behaviors, and sleep. The treatment helps you deal with negative thoughts and behaviors that can disrupt your sleep. It also helps you break the cycle of stress and insomnia, as the two can worsen each other.
CBT takes six to eight months, but the duration will depend on your needs. It employs multiple strategies⁶, such as:
Relaxation techniques: This involves muscle relaxation and breathing exercises to ease anxiety and promote relaxation at bedtime.
Sleep restriction: Sleep restriction aims to minimize sleep hours and avoid daytime naps to promote better sleep at night.
Stimulus control therapy: This treatment alleviates things that condition your mind to stay awake at night.
Light therapy: Light therapy helps reset your body clock to make you feel more alert during the day and fatigued at night. It also helps if you have difficulty waking up in the morning.
Paradoxical intention: This involves remaining passively awake. It helps reduce performance anxiety arising from concerns about sleep and insomnia.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help you sleep better. They may prescribe eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon (Rozerem), zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, and others), or benzodiazepines.
These medications have side effects like drowsiness. Drowsiness increases your risk of accidents. Discuss potential side effects with your doctor before taking medication.
Over-the-counter sleep pills can help ease insomnia. Most are antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
Taking these drugs to treat insomnia without the guidance of your doctor has risks. The drugs can cause side effects, such as drowsiness and dizziness, and can react dangerously with other medications.
Please consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter medications for your insomnia.
Making minor adjustments to your daily routine can help ease insomnia.
Examples include staying active, sticking to a sleep schedule, and limiting daytime naps. Avoiding caffeine, making your bedroom comfortable, and avoiding large meals before bedtime can also help improve your sleep.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, waking up too early, daytime fatigue and drowsiness, irritability, and anxiety.
Although it affects women more than men, you can still experience insomnia as a man.
Being of an older age, underlying health conditions, medications, stress, and depression can cause insomnia in men.
Speak to your doctor if you have insomnia symptoms. They can recommend a treatment plan to help ease your symptoms, which may include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, or medication.
Insomnia Awareness Day facts and stats | Sleep Education
Sleep apnoea | Better Health Channel
Insomnia in older adults (2020)
Adults | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Causes of sleep-onset insomnia | News Medical Life Sciences
Overcoming sleep maintenance insomnia and staying asleep for good | Somnus Therapy
Is your medication making you lose sleep? | Everyday Health
How smoking affects sleep | Very Well Health
Medical causes of sleep problems | Help Guide
Adopt good sleep habits (2008)
Light therapy for insomnia sufferers | Sleep Foundation
Chronic insomnia (2022)
Sleep and stress | The Sleep Doctor