Insomnia is common and affects people of all ages. Typical features include:
- Difficulty getting off to sleep
- Trouble staying asleep
- Waking too early in the morning
- Worrying about not sleeping
- Tiredness during the day
There are many different reasons for insomnia. Bad sleep habits, called "poor sleep hygiene", and conditioned or habitual insomnia are the most common causes. Some simple strategies to improve sleep hygiene include:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks after 6pm
- Use the bedroom for sleeping and intimate activity only (e.g. not for studying, working or watching television)
- Avoid long daytime naps
- Aim to rise at the same time each day
- Avoid excessive time in bed
- If unable to sleep, stay out of bed until sleepy again
Other strategies to treat conditioned insomnia include relaxation techniques, and more specialised methods such as Stimulus Control and Sleep Restriction Therapies. Some types of insomnia may be caused by a mis-timed body clock which can be treated with bright light therapy.
Less commonly, insomnia may be due to side effects of certain medications or an underlying medical disorder such as depression.
An information booklet "Sleep well, Live better" published by Media21 is an excellent resource. Information and purchase is available from www.3stepstobettersleep.com.au.
Click here for more information on the Insomnia Treatment Program at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.