An introduction to sleep problems
Sleep problems come near the top of health issues that prompt web searches.
An increasing number of people find that getting a good night’s sleep can be a real pain. Estimates of the number of people suffering from sleeping problems vary:
- It is said that up to 25% of the UK population have problems getting restful or good sleep
- Some studies suggest that up to 40% of people complain of having ‘sleep problems'
- Other studies indicate that between 23% and 34% of people suffer from problems sleeping including insomnia.
Whatever the true figure is, it is clear that many people around us feel that they can’t sleep or have problems sleeping well.
Sleep problems are different from sleep disorders which are medical conditions that can affect your sleep, such as sleep apnoea.
Types of sleep problem
In general, people experience three patterns of sleeping problems:
- Difficulty getting to sleep - this is probably the most common. With normal sleep, you should be unconscious well within 30 minutes. However, some people find that it can take a few hours to fall asleep but once this is achieved, the quality of sleep is good
- Poor quality sleep - on the other hand, there are those who have no problem getting to sleep but are light sleepers, waking up often with the slightest noise. Once awake, they have difficult falling back to sleep
- Waking up early - this may or may not be a problem. Some people enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn to get on with their daily lives, uninterrupted by others. However, others who wake up early could suffer from low mood or depression.
Causes of sleeping problems
Problems with sleep can be caused by a large number of factors. Despite this variety, they can in general be placed into two categories:
- Lifestyle – these cover many factors from the environment in which you sleep in, the amount of stress you are coping with to your age. Having a new-born baby is definitely a change in lifestyle and is a common cause of sleep deprivation, and work stress is thought to contribute to the estimate that 60% of workers have their worst night's sleep on a Sunday
- Minor medical conditions – there are a number of medical conditions which could prevent you from sleeping well, ranging from a blocked nose to menopausal symptoms, having an enlarged prostate and pain.
Follow the link for more information on causes of sleep problems.
Sleep hygiene tips
Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe a set of steps you can take to promote good sleeping habits. Making some simple changes to your surroundings or your lifestyle could help you sleep better at night. These will include:
- Making yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible
- Dealing with distractions
- Quietening your mind
- Exercising your mind
- Settling into a sleep routine.
Follow the link to read our top sleep hygiene tips which goes into a bit more detail.
Some people find that they need a bit more help with their sleep problems and look for sleeping aids - remedies or techniques used to help overcome sleep problems. Types of sleeping aids include:
- Sleeping Tablets – these are tablets prescribed by your doctor
- Over-the-counter (OTC) remedies – these are conventional (synthetic) medicines available from your pharmacy without a prescription
- Herbal remedies such as Valerian – an alternative to conventional medicine and becoming increasingly popular
- Other therapies – these do not come in the form of a tablet capsule or tincture but examples include hypnotherapy and yoga.
Follow the link to find out more about sleep aids.