Uncovering the History of Insomnia

Last Updated: FEB 25, 2023


As an Aussie, you know all too well that when your body’s lacking sleep, it’s hard to function. But have you ever wondered where the term “insomnia” comes from? Let’s take a look at the history and science behind this puzzling condition.

Where does the word "insomnia" come from?

The word “insomnia” has Latin roots: in- meaning “not,” and somnus meaning “sleep.” It was first used in English in 17th century texts to refer to a person's inability to sleep. Over time, the term has become a widely accepted medical diagnosis and one that affects more Australians than you might realise.

What causes insomnia?

The exact cause of insomnia is still unknown; however, researchers have identified various factors that can lead to this condition. These include psychological stressors such as anxiety and depression, physical issues like chronic pain or discomfort, environmental factors like noise and light pollution, lifestyle choices such as caffeine intake or irregular sleeping habits, and biological changes due to aging.

Insomnia can be short-term or long-term; short-term insomnia usually lasts for less than three weeks while long-term insomnia typically persists for over three months. Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment options vary from lifestyle modifications (like avoiding caffeine and limiting screen time) to medication (like sedatives). Cognitive behavioral therapy is also effective in treating chronic insomnia by changing thought patterns that are associated with poor sleep quality.

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Who First Used The Term "Insomnia"?

Based on our research it appears to have first been coined by the English physician Thomas Willis in 1676. Back then, doctors didn't have a clear understanding of what caused insomnia or how to treat it. In fact, they often prescribed dangerous remedies like opium and alcohol to help patients sleep. Thankfully, we've come a long way since then in our understanding of this condition and how to manage it. Today, there are many effective treatments available for those who suffer from insomnia, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

No matter how you look at it, insomnia is an incredibly common—and incredibly frustrating condition faced by millions of Australians every day. By understanding the root of its name and exploring potential causes and treatments, we can start taking steps towards finding better sleep solutions for ourselves or our loved ones who may be suffering from this affliction! From lifestyle modifications to professional help, there are many ways to tackle this problem head on.