Whether it’s down to stress, worry or noisy neighbours, we’ve all had a few sleepless nights in our lifetime. But if you’re consistently finding it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, or tiredness is having a negative impact on your life, it could be that you’re suffering from insomnia.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a surprisingly common condition, with around one-third of Brits likely to experience episodes at least once in their lifetime. Episodes can last from a few days to a few years, and severity can range from issues with light or disturbed sleep to extended periods of not being able to sleep at all.

Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up frequently or too early and not being able to get back to sleep
  • Feeling tired in the morning
  • Feeling irritable or having difficulty concentrating throughout the day

Remember that there’s no ‘normal’ amount of sleep you should be getting, but that an average adult usually requires between seven and nine hours a night. Consistently getting more than seven hours can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health.

What Causes Insomnia?

There are two types of insomnia; the first, primary insomnia, is lesser understood but is categorised as sleeplessness that isn’t caused by or related to any other factors. The second, secondary insomnia, is sleeplessness that is caused by another factor.
Factors can include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Lifestyle habits such as alcohol, smoking, heavy meals, or screen use before bedtime
  • Another health condition such as depression or chronic pain
  • A poor sleeping environment such as an uncomfortable bed, light, extreme temperatures, or noise
  • Certain medications, including those for blood pressure, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, or antidepressants

How Can I Tackle Insomnia?













The good news is that, if your insomnia is of the secondary variety, you should be able to tackle it by working on its cause. Here are some general tips to get a better night’s sleep:

  1. Work on your sleep environment – Make sure your bed is comfortable and your mattress supportive. Eliminate as much light and noise as possible (ear plugs can sometimes be useful if the noise is out of your control).
  2. Set a bedtime routine – Sleeplessness and insomnia can be effectively dealt with by getting the body used to a more regular sleep routine so try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
  3. Exercise – Not only will regular exercise help to tire you out, but it can also provide a boost to your mental health, helping to eradicate any stress or anxiety that might be keeping you up at night.
  4. Avoid stimulants before bed – Alcohol, nicotine, heavy meals, TV, and mobile use can all wake you up in the evening instead of helping you to wind down. Try reading or taking a warm bath instead, to let your body and mind know it’s time to relax.
  5. Don’t fight it – If you do wake up at night and can’t get back to sleep, get up and do something like work on a puzzle (although not on your mobile!) instead of lying awake and worrying. This helps your brain to associate your bed with sleeping and not with stress or anxiety.

Insomnia is a common condition and can be resolved with the appropriate treatment or lifestyle changes. However, if you’re having trouble identifying the cause of your insomnia, or the above tips aren’t helping and sleeplessness is having a real impact on your life, it could be time to see your GP. Your doctor can check for any previously unidentified conditions or even refer you for CBT, a great treatment for insomnia that works by helping you to change your thoughts and behaviours around sleep.