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Risk Factors for Insomnia

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Insomnia

A risk factor is something that raises a person's chances of getting a disease or health problem. A person can have insomnia with or without the risks below. The more risks a person has, the greater the chances are.

Insomnia is more common in older people. It is also more common in women. Pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, and menopause raise the risk. Other things that raise the risk are:
Insomnia is also more likely in those who:
  • Smoke, or have alcohol or drug use disorders
  • Take certain medicines, such as:
    • Decongestants, and cough and cold remedies
    • Antidepressants
    • Medicines for heart disease and high blood pressure
    • Narcotic pain medicines
    • Steroids
    • Stimulants
    • Theophylline and albuterol—used to treat asthma
  • Have habits that interfere with sleep, such as:
    • Exercising close to bedtime
    • Having an irregular morning and night schedule
    • Working or doing mentally intense work before or in bed
    • Travel long range by jet
    • Have a distracting or uncomfortable sleep environment


  • Insomnia. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/insomnia. Accessed March 16, 2022.
  • Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/insomnia-in-adults. Accessed March 16, 2022.
  • Insomnia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/insomnia. Accessed March 16, 2022.
  • Insomnia. National Sleep Foundation website. Available at: https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/home. Accessed March 16, 2022.
  • Patel D, Steinberg J, et al. Insomnia in the elderly: a review. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(6):1017-1024.


  • Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.