What is insomnia?

Insomnia is when you have some difficulty in getting to sleep (or difficulty in staying asleep), or when you can’t sleep for a long enough time so that you feel refreshed the next morning, even when you have had enough time available to sleep.

Most people will experience sleep problems at some time in their life. Up to a third of all people in the United Kingdom are thought to experience insomnia episodes. Insomnia tends to be more common as we age and is also more common in women.


Symptoms of insomnia

Everyone is different and so it is difficult to clearly define what ‘normal sleep’ is. Many things play a role in terms of how much sleep you need (for example, your lifestyle, environment, your age and your diet). Your mood can be affected by insomnia-related fatigue and this can lead to relationship problems both with loved ones and with work colleagues.

The most common insomnia symptoms are:

  • Waking up very early in the morning
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up in the night
  • Feeling irritable/tired and finding it difficult to cope during the day


What causes insomnia?

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Asthma
  • Some medications
  • Alcohol/drug misuse


What to do

You can help yourself to get to sleep by doing these simple things:

  • Avoid caffeine drinks later on in the day
  • Avoid any heavy meals late at night
  • Set a regular time at which to wake up
  • Use thick curtains/blinds, earplugs and an eye mask to stop yourself from waking up due to light and noise
  • Relaxation can help: Try listening to calming music or having a warm bath an hour before bed


When to see your IPSA practitioner: Your IPSA insomnia consultation

If you are finding it difficult to stay asleep or to get to sleep or you are not getting enough sleep and it is affecting your daily life, then see your IPSA practitioner for a full-length IPSA insomnia consultation.

Working in a person-centred approach with you, your IPSA physician will ask you about your daily alcohol and caffeine consumption, sleeping routines and general lifestyle habits (such as exercise and diet), at all times encouraging you to ask questions. Your IPSA practitioner will discuss your past medical history with you, to determine if any illnesses or medications may be affecting your inability to sleep, to get enough sleep or to stay asleep. The clinic is private and your confidentiality is always assured at IPSA.


What can I take for insomnia?

Sleeping tablets

Hypnotics (sleeping tablets) are a type of medication that encourages sleep. Your IPSA physician may consider these for you:

  • If your insomnia symptoms are fairly severe
  • To help to ease short-term insomnia
  • If the good sleep hygiene and other treatments mentioned above prove ineffective


Benzodiazepines (such as diazepam for insomnia) are tranquillisers which work by reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation, calmness and sleep.

These should only be taken in cases of severe insomnia or when the insomnia is causing extreme distress.


Zolpidem is used for short-term treatment of ‘debilitating’ insomnia or where the insomnia is causing severe stress.


Zopiclone is also licensed for short-term treatment of insomnia, including when you are having difficulty in falling asleep, when you are waking up during the night and for long-term insomnia that is causing severe distress or is debilitating.


Antidepressants can sometimes be prescribed by your IPSA physician for people suffering from insomnia, and these can be useful if you also have a history of depression.

Melatonin (Circadin)

The medicines containing melatonin have proven effective in relieving insomnia in elderly people for up to 26 weeks.

Melatonin helps in regulating the sleep cycle (the circadian rhythm) and is a hormone that occurs naturally in your body.


If you are experiencing insomnia, then call the IPSA clinic or go online and book your IPSA full-length insomnia consultation today.



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