Insomnia is a common complaint. Over a third of people experience insomnia occasionally. Short term insomnia is caused by stressful life events, jet lag, changes in sleep environment, stimulant medications and some acute medical conditions and longer term,  depression or anxiety disorders.

The amount of sleep a person needs varies depending on age, lifestyle, diet, personality and environment. Generally we sleep less as we age and our sleep tends to be more broken. 

There are many causes for persisting insomnia ( when difficulties last more than four weeks)

Some suggestions for improving sleep habits are:











  • keep sleep in perspective, frustration and the emotions associated continues the cycle
  • don't nap during the day
  • reduce caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol
  • exercise daily, but not close to bedtime. Being in the sun during the day, especially in the morning improves sleep quality by improving your body clock and its effect on melatonin levels.
  • try to relax your mind before bed, for example a bath, meditation, and setting a routine before bed. The internal body clock works better with a regular routine. 
  • only go to bed if you feel sleepy
  • if you can't sleep get up and do something else until you feel sleepy
  • get up at the same time every morning
  • limit activities in the bedroom to sleeping and sex ( stop worrying or watching TV)
  • avoid judging your sleep on a day-to-day basis

If your sleep habits seem to be okay, but  continue to have problems, your may need more specialist help. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia has been shown to be more effective in the medium and long term than sleeping tablets.  Sleeping tablets have a place for specific events make sleep difficult. Your GP can refer you to a sleep specialist or a psychologist. Insomnia treatment  services in Australia are listed in the Sleep Services Directory : the Sleep Foundation Australia has useful overviews at

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