Insomnia is an inability to get to sleep, or to stay asleep for long enough to feel fresh and rested the next morning. It’s a very common problem, thought to affect one in every five people in the UK, with a particular prominence among the elderly.
There is no definitive guide for how much sleep is required each night because everyone is different. On average the recommended amount of sleep a person should aim for is between seven and nine hours. Children and babies generally sleep for longer than this, whereas the elderly tend to sleep for less.
Sometimes the causes of insomnia can be unclear. However, the onset of the condition is often associated with the following:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Depression or schizophrenia.
- Lifestyle factors, such as shift work.
- Consumption of alcohol or caffeine before going to bed.
- An unsuitable sleeping environment, such as an uncomfortable bed, or too much light or noise.
- Certain physical conditions, such as chronic pain, heart problems or disorders.
- Certain medicines such as steroids, antidepressants or epilepsy drugs.
For a lot of people, bouts of insomnia can come and go without causing any serious problems. However, for others the condition can last for months or years at a time. This persistent form of insomnia will likely impact on a sufferer’s quality of life, affecting mood, temperament and energy levels. This can easily lead to relationship problems with family, friends and colleagues.