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Insomnia can drive you potty, leaving you feeling cranky and unable to face the day. However, it is not an uncommon complaint, with an estimated 33% of people in the UK suffering from episodes.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia means not getting enough sleep to feel refreshed in the morning, even though you’ve had plenty of opportunity. You may struggle to fall asleep at night, wake frequently during the night or wake early in the morning, unable to get back to sleep. The condition can result in you feeling tired during the day, which can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating and changes in your mood.

What causes Insomnia?

Insomnia can be attributed to many different things, including stress, anxiety, depression and alcohol or drug misuse. If you’re worrying about something like work or family it might keep you awake, but when you start worrying about not getting enough sleep, that will have the same effect. Drinking too much alcohol or taking illegal drugs can also have an adverse effect on your sleeping pattern. Also, stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can disrupt sleep. Insomnia can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying health problem. Heart disease, depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, respiratory problems, arthritis and hormonal issues can all have an impact on sleep. If you are taking prescribed medication, then trouble sleeping could be put down to the type of medicine you’re taking. Basically, if you are suffering from insomnia, it’s likely there is an issue to be addressed. However, this does mean that making the right changes can cure most cases of insomnia.

Changing habits

Many people find their insomnia disappears when they make changes to their lifestyle. This might include: cutting down on coffee, alcohol and cigarettes before bed or curtailing late-night television. Even something as simple as keeping your mobile phone and tablet out of the bedroom can have a positive effect on sleeping habits.

Good habits to get into

As well as cutting out the bad stuff, there are some good habits you can adopt to help you sleep better. Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bed; instead do something equally relaxing such as reading (from an actual book or an e-reader without a backlight). When you’re ready to fall asleep, make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and not too warm. It’s also a good idea to keep your bedroom only for sleep (and sex!) so you don’t associate the room with stress.


Sleep schedule

It may be tempting to lie in at the weekend to try and catch up on some sleep, but in the long run this will do more harm than good. Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This will help your brain and body get into a routine and form a healthy sleeping pattern. Avoid napping during the day as this will mess up your body clock.


As most people who have experienced insomnia will testify, anxiety can be a real contributing factor to the condition. Even if worry isn’t the initial cause of your insomnia, fretting about not being able to sleep can result in you staying awake for longer. Practising relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or yoga can help. It may take some time to kick in, but eventually you should see some results. In the meantime, if you can’t sleep then get out of bed. There’s no point in lying there tossing and turning and getting more and more anxious, you could be doing something relaxing to help you nod off again later.

Professional help

If you are experiencing insomnia every night and it seems to be getting worse, then it may be worth seeing your GP for advice. Keep a sleep diary to show your doctor so they can clearly see how the issue is affecting you. Your GP may be able to diagnose an underlying condition, or refer you to a specialist for further help.






About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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