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  • Janice Raj

Three Factors Underlying Insomnia

Have you wondered recently, why do I have such a difficult time falling asleep? Chances are quite high that you will find the answer to your question in the three factors discussed below.

Circadian Rhythm

Think about this as your body's personal clock. If I had to take all of us and put us into a cave for a month where there is no way of telling time, our bodies would still tell us when we are hungry, sleepy, focused, and regulate other factors according to this internal clock. This clock gets disrupted and confused when we start falling asleep and waking up at different times everyday. This can lead us to feeling sleepy during waking hours and disrupt our ability to focus. The best way to assess your circadian rhythm is to ask yourself two simple questions:

1. Do I fall asleep around the same time every night?

2. Do I wake up around the same time every morning?

Sleep Drive

Think about this like sex drive, we like it when it's high. How do we increase this drive? Every minute you spend physically out of bed is helping build your sleep drive. Many of us have a bed time and we do our best to be in bed by this time with hopes that we will be able to sleep. This effort to stay disciplined becomes counteractive if we find ourselves spending a considerable amount of time awake once we get into bed. Answer the questions below to identify factors that could be affecting your sleep drive:

1. How much time do I spend in bed that doesn't involve sleeping? (e.g. watching TV, doing homework, working, taking naps, eating, playing video games)

2. Do I spend longer than 15 minutes in bed right after I wake up in the morning?

3. Do I stay in bed for more than 20 to 30 minutes if I'm unable to sleep?

4. Do I take naps? If yes, how long are my naps usually?

5. Do I try to go to bed early to catch up on sleep even if I'm not sleepy?


Our mind is like a friend that is always talking and helping us think things through, comes up with solutions, and helps navigate our daily life. When these thoughts become more worry-based, they trigger emotions which then causes our body to physiologically react. This reaction can negatively arouse us placing us into a state of hyper-arousal and hinder our ability to enter stage one and two of sleep. We are able to enter the early stages of sleep as our heart rate and breathing starts slowing down, our muscles become more relaxed, and our thoughts start slowing down, however, when we are worried the opposite happens. Our heart rate and breathing tends to increase along with our thoughts and our muscles becomes more tense. To identify if you may be experiencing hyper-arousal, answer the following questions below:

1. Do I find myself thinking about things in bed that stress me out ?

2. Am I currently going through a stressful situation or recently came out of a stressful period of my life?

3. Do I experience worries related to sleep?

4. Do I have a hard time feeling calm at night-time?

5. Do I engage in problem solving or think about things I have to do tomorrow when in bed?

6. Do you try to sleep and feel frustrated when unable to sleep?

Upon answering these question you can start identifying thinking, emotional, and behavioral patterns that disrupt your sleep. This can help you target specific sleep-related skills and goals. Your health care providers can also help you further discuss these factors.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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