Sleep disorders affect a lot of people but what can you do about it?
Who's affected by sleep disorders? Almost everyone has difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep at some time in their life but this is usually short-lived. However, an estimated one in ten people suffer insomnia on a regular basis or over a long period of time, called chronic insomnia. Insomnia is more common in older adults and those with lots of stress.
Sleeping difficulties are most commonly caused by stress and worry. Other common causes include physical illness that causes pain; environmental noise; caffeine, alcohol and medication side effects; depression and shift-work.
Insomnia contributes to excessive daytime tiredness, which in turn may be responsible for accidents, recurrent infections, poor concentration, irritability, work and relationship problems and a general inability to cope.
What's the best way to drop off?
If you suffer from insomnia try going to sleep and getting up at the same time; not working or watching TV in the bedroom; ensuring your bed is comfortable and that the room is dark and quiet.
You should also try avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Taking more exercise during the day, having a warm milky drink before bed, and herbs such as valerian and camomile can also help sleep come more easily.
It's important to address and remove any underlying cause of the insomnia, for example, by treating depression or making the bedroom quieter. Sleeping tablets may be prescribed for short-term use only, for example, when the cause of insomnia has been identified as bereavement or jet lag.