by Amy Hilson

Sleepless nights

Medical conditions that keep you awake at night

Sleepless nights
Medical conditions that keep you awake at night

If it’s not the rain patting against your window, there may be an internal reason for your insomnia. Here are some of the many medical conditions that can cause regular bouts of broken sleep. If you have any suspicion that your insomnia is serious, go to the doctor.


An overactive thyroid gland is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, in which an excess of thyroid hormones are produced. This can cause sleep disturbances because of the mental and physical changes that result from this hormone disruption.


Chronic sufferers from fibromyalgia are familiar with the aches and pain of muscles and around joints. While chronic pain obviously disrupts your peace at night, disturbed sleep patterns may be a cause rather than only a symptom of fibromyalgia.

Gastroesophageal reflux

Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux (GORD) is the result of an abnormal relaxation of the muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus, which allows acid from the stomach to flow back into the oesophagus. This is often worse when lying down, causing discomfort that disturbs sleep.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

If you’re an older man getting up to pee frequently at night, chances are the doctor will investigate whether you might have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland.

Parkinson's disease

Thanks to Michael J Fox, we are all familiar with the body tremors that are the most obvious symptom of Parkinson's disease. The changes in the brain caused by the progression of the disease can cause sleep disturbances.


Around 1 in 100 people are affected by epileptic seizures, described as sudden "electrical storms" in the brain. Epilepsy may disrupt sleep patterns, and lack of sleep may worsen symptoms of epilepsy.


Asthma is a chronic lung condition where the airways narrow, causing breathing to become obstructed. Some symptoms, especially coughing, can become worse at night, causing sleep disruption.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammation that causes aching, pain and stiffness in joints often gets worse with age. Some statistics show that 72% of people over the age of 55 who have arthritis have some sort of sleep difficulty

Urinary tract infection

Many women are familiar with the discomfort of an infection of the urinary tract, often caused by the presence of e-coli or other bacteria. Sleep can often become disrupted due to discomfort and an increased need to get up to urinate.

Heart failure

Heart failure, most often a symptom of existing heart problems, is the inability of the heart to circulate blood properly. A person who is experiencing heart failure may be disturbed at night when they wake up feeling short of breath, and may also need to urinate frequently.

There are other conditions that might be associated to insomnia, so be aware that a combination of ongoing sleeplessness and any other symptoms should be investigated.


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