Difficulty falling asleep is common to everyone and many of us experience nights when we cannot sleep, for example the night before an exam, the night before our wedding day, or when we have heard some bad news. In these situations, sleep difficulties are normal and they usually only last for a night or a very short period of time. However, there are people who regularly experience difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early in the morning. As a result, these people experience feelings of fatigue and reduced daily performance. If a reoccurrence of this happens at least three times per week for a period of three months, this indicates that these people suffer from a sleep disorder called insomnia.

Symptoms of Insomnia and Sleep Conditions

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Waking too early in the morning
  • Feeling tired and unrefreshed upon waking in the morning
  • Struggling to complete day-to-day tasks due to lack of energy
  • Reduced productivity and performance at work
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Waking up through the night and struggling to fall back asleep
  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Awake for most of the night, despite wanting and trying to sleep
  • Waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Indecisiveness


Insomnia is generally treated with medication, psychotherapy or lifestyle changes. In acute cases of insomnia, people can see improvement by changing their lifestyle, by reducing stress, increasing exercise and healthy eating and practicing relaxation techniques, meditation or mindfulness,. According to the National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) the recommended psychotherapy for insomnia is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviours that influence on sleep and then adjusting those thoughts and behaviours (e.g. changing sleeping patterns). Over time irrational thoughts are changed so that people can develop a more balanced and positive view on life and their behaviour is altered as a consequence. Stimulus control is another way of coping with sleeping problems, which focuses on understanding and changing the unhealthy association between bedroom and wakefulness.

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