March 9, 2016

Sleep Disorders: Insomnia

insomniaBy Rheagan Rizio, USC Student, Be Well Blogger

According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is “difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has a chance to do so.” Those with insomnia often report feelings of dissatisfaction with their sleep, and “typically experience one or more of the following: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.”

Possible causes for insomnia include:


  • Nasal/sinus allergies
  • Endocrine problems (ex: hyperthyroidism)
  • Asthma
  • Certain medications
  • Depression/other psychiatric disorders


  • Working at home in the evenings: this can make it difficult to unwind/may make you preoccupied
  • Using a computer/other electronic within an hour of trying to go to sleep (this is due to the blue light from the electronic device)
  • You sleep in late to make up for missed sleep
  • Extreme anxiety (tension, ruminating over past/current/future events, feeling overwhelmed, etc)


  • Alcohol: while it may help fall asleep initially, it can disrupt your sleep later on in the night
  • Caffeine (a stimulant)
  • Nicotine (a stimulant)
  • Heavy meals before bed

There are two main types of insomnia. Acute insomnia is brief and often happens due to life circumstances (for example, having difficulty sleeping the night before a test or after receiving stressful news). Acute insomnia usually resolves on its own and doesn’t require any treatment. Chronic insomnia, in contrast, occurs at least 3 nights per week for a minimum of 3 months and can have many causes. These causes may include, but are not limited to, changes in environment, unhealthy sleep habits, clinical disorders, or medications. Chronic insomnia may require specialized treatment which may include behavioral psychology, medical components or a combination of the two.

If you think you may have a problem with insomnia, we have several resources on campus that are available to you!

On-Campus Sleep Help

  • Call Student Counseling for a consult or services to manage sleep difficulties at (213) 740-7711
  • Go to OWHP Wellness Lounge at Engemann, 2nd floor, to pick up a sleep mask and earplugs

Thanks for reading today’s blog post! Check back tomorrow to learn about other common sleep disorders.