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Insomnia can be described as difficulty getting enough sleep, or staying asleep for as long enough to feel refreshed when waking up, even though there has been enough opportunity to sleep.

It is a very common problem that most people will experience at some point in their life. It can affect any person any age. Those more frequently effected by insomnia tend to be female or older.

Everyone has their own conception of what normal sleep is to them. All aspects of life including environment, diet and lifestyle all play an influential part on how much sleep you need.

The most common symptoms of insomnia are:

  • Waking up early in the morning
  • Lying awake for a long time at night before falling asleep
  • Waking up several times in the middle of the night
  • Waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep
  • Feeling tired and not refreshed by sleep
  • Not being able to function properly during the day and finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Being irritable

There are a number of conditions contribute to insomnia; these include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alcohol and drugs misuse
  • Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety, panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia

The first step in treating insomnia is to identify and treat any underlying health conditions that may be causing your sleep problems.

Sleeping tablets are a treatment of last resort and are often only used in the short-term with the smallest possible dose. Although they can sometimes relieve the symptoms of insomnia, they don't treat the cause. Therefore, if you have long-term insomnia, it's unlikely that sleeping tablets will help.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that may be contributing to your insomnia. CBT is usually recommended if you've had sleep problems for more than four weeks.

* The contents of this condition is for information purposes only.