• Are you sleepy during the day?
  • Do you feel generally tired and irritable?
  • Do you have problems concentrating or remembering?

If you answered yes then you may be suffering from insomnia.

Insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. It means that you are having trouble with how much or how well you sleep. This may be caused by difficulties in either falling or staying asleep. Self-reported sleeping problems, dissatisfaction with sleep quality and daytime tiredness are the only defining characteristics of insomnia because it is such an individual experience.

The concept of ‘a good sleep’ differs widely from person to person. While the average night’s sleep for an adult is around seven or eight hours, some people only need four, while others like up to 10 hours or more. What seems like insomnia to one person might be considered a good sleep by another.

A lack of quality sleep can cause more than just sleepiness. It can cause accidents, affect your relationships, health, weight and mental ability and can make you feel generally “disconnected” from the world.

Over one-third of people experience insomnia from time to time, but only around five per cent need treatment for the condition.

If your sleeplessness is caused by such things as stress, jet lag, a change in sleeping environments, some acute medical illnesses and stimulant medications, you might not have trouble getting your sleep back on track after the event is over. However, if you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, these tips to managing sleeplessness can help you be well on your way to experiencing healthy, restorative sleep.

Managing sleeplessness

Keep sleep in perspective

People who suffer from insomnia are normally frustrated or annoyed by it. Paradoxically, this emotional state contributes to keeping them awake. It helps to stop expecting a set amount of sleep every night.

Having less sleep than you’d like doesn’t cause any harm. Allow yourself to fall short of the ideal without getting anxious about it.

Home remedies for short-term insomnia

  • Reduce the symptoms of anxiety by using relaxation exercises
  • Maintain a regular sleep hygiene routine to create a healthy sleep routine that can improve sleep quality.
  • The Kansas State University also has a very useful site with a number of suggestions to combat sleep problems.
  • Practical advice for when sleep evades from The Yoga Site ‘Bedtime Blues: What to do when you can’t sleep’

Long-term chronic insomnia may require professional support from a sleep disorder clinic. Insomnia that has persisted for years needs professional support and a lot of patience. It might take some time to re-establish normal sleeping patterns.

Some of the techniques used by a sleep disorder clinic might include:

  • A sleep diary, to help pinpoint the pattern of insomnia
  • A program of mild sleep deprivation to reset sleep rhythms
  • Medication to help set up a new sleeping routine
  • Exposure to bright light in the morning
  • Behavioural therapy.

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