Published: 27 November 2017

Insomnia: Advice from Brownlow Health Services

Bed Insomnia Sleeping

If you are suffering from insomnia or know someone who is, you might find the information Brownlow Health Services have shared helpful.

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning. It’s a common problem thought to regularly affect around one in every three people in the UK. If you have insomnia, you may:

  • Find it difficult to fall asleep
  • Lie awake for long periods at night
  • Wake up several times during the night
  • Wake up early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep
  • Not feel refreshed when you get up
  • Find it hard to nap during the day, despite feeling tired
  • Feel tired and irritable during the day and have difficulty concentrating

Occasional episodes of insomnia may come and go without causing any serious problems, but for some people it can last for months or even years at a time.

Persistent insomnia can have a significant impact on your quality of life. It can limit what you’re able to do during the day, affect your mood, and lead to relationship problems with friends, family and colleagues.

How much sleep do I need?

There are no official guidelines about how much sleep you should get each night because everyone is different.

On average, a “normal” amount of sleep for an adult is considered to be around seven to nine hours a night. Children and babies may sleep for much longer than this, whereas older adults may sleep less.

What’s important is whether you feel you get enough sleep, and whether your sleep is good quality.

Try the sleep self-assessment to see if you have trouble sleeping.

What causes insomnia?

It’s not always clear what triggers insomnia, but it’s often associated with:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • A poor sleeping environment – such as an uncomfortable bed, or a bedroom that’s too light, noisy, hot or cold
  • Lifestyle factors – such as jet lag, shift work, or drinking alcohol or caffeine before going to bed
  • Mental health conditions – such as depression and schizophrenia
  • Physical health conditions – such as heart problems, other sleep disorders and long-term pain
  • Certain medicines – such as some antidepressants, epilepsy medicines and steroid medication

What you can do about it

There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good night’s sleep if you have insomnia.

These include:

  • Setting regular times for going to bed and waking up
  • Relaxing before bed time – try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
  • Using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
  • Not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed
  • Not napping during the day
  • Writing a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before going to bed to help you forget about them until the morning

Some people find over-the-counter sleeping tablets helpful, but they don’t address the underlying problem and can have troublesome side effects.

Read more self-help tips for insomnia.

When to see your GP

Make an appointment to see your GP if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep and it’s affecting your daily life – particularly if it has been a problem for a month or more and the above measures have not helped.

Your GP may ask you about:

  • Your sleeping routines
  • Your daily alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • General lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise
  • Medical history for any illness or medication that may be contributing to your insomnia
  • Suggest keeping a sleep diary for a couple of weeks to help them gain a better understanding of your sleep patterns

Further information

Further information is available from:

University of Liverpool
Student Health- Peach Street, Liverpool L69 7ZL
Brownlow- 70 Pembroke Place, Liverpool L69 3GF
SHAC- Carnatic Halls of Residence

Tel: 0151 285 4578

www.brownlowhealth.co.uk

www.twitter.com/brownlowhealth

www.facebook.com/brownlowhealth

 

Talk Liverpool: https://www.talkliverpool.nhs.uk/self-help/

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