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Sleep is as essential to us as food, air and water. Sometime in your life you may have difficulty sleeping - many people do. Anyone can suffer from insomnia, although sleeping problems are more common among women (especially menopausal), the ill, the elderly, smokers, and alcoholics. Sleep problems are, however, surprisingly common among young people. While it is not an illness and is in no way life-threatening, insomnia can be very distressing, frustrating, exhausting, depressing and at worst it can make you feel like you're going crazy.

Chronic insomnia - lasting for several weeks, months or even years
Transient insomnia - lasting for a few nights or weeks only, usually connected to a stressful event e.g. an exam, a bereavement.
Within these broad categories insomnia usually takes one or more of the following forms:

Difficulty falling asleep - more common among young people
Sleeping lightly and restlessly, waking often, lying awake in the middle of the night - more common in people over 40. In younger people it may be associated with depression.
Waking early and being unable to get back to sleep - this is more common in older people and anyone worrying about something in particular.

Common symptoms to check if you…..
are tired during the day
have frequent headaches, are irritable or lack concentration
are tired and not refreshed on waking
sleep better away from home
take longer than 30-40 minutes to fall asleep
wake repeatedly during the night
wake far too early and are unable to get back to sleep
only get to sleep with the aid of sleeping pills or alcohol
... then you are probably suffering from insomnia.
Main Causes
Insomnia is a condition that is caused by something else! Sometimes it won't be immediately obvious what the causes are in your own case, but the following list might give clues:

states of mind - anxiety, depression, worry, anger, grief, anticipating a difficult event
change - moving house/city, starting university
environment - noise, discomfort, time zone change
pain - one of the commonest causes
medical conditions - heart, breathing, stomach, digestive, high blood pressure, arthritis, anorexia.
recreational drugs - including nicotine, caffeine, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, cannabis
sleeping pills and tranquillisers - can actually cause sleep disturbance
other prescription drugs - including some contraceptives, diuretics, slimming pills, beta-blockers, stimulants.
Some causes of insomnia can't be easily dealt with but most can.
What can you do about insomnia?
A great deal. The good news about insomnia is that you can cure yourself - in your own way, in your own time and at your own pace. You may wish to enlist the support or help of your doctor, a college nurse or a counsellor, but you won't necessarily need to. However you must be prepared to make some changes in your lifestyle in order to sleep better.

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