In the UK it’s estimated that insomnia regularly affects one in three adults and can be caused by a range of different issues.
Environmental factors play a huge part in it, so make your bedroom as ‘sleep friendly’ as possible – this includes good ventilation, especially in hot weather. Try and keep your room cool before you go to bed, use lightweight cotton covers and ensure you are hydrated.
This brings us to another common reason we get up more frequently in the night as we age – the need for the loo. This is can be caused by prostate enlargement in men or an overactive bladder in women – but other conditions such as heartburn, arthritis and the menopause can also keep us tossing and turning into the small hours.
It’s always good idea to visit your GP and check out whether there’s an underlying reason why you can’t sleep, and what can be done to help.
Look at your daytime routine as well. Avoid napping if you can and try to get out and about in the sunshine. If you don’t, this can affect what we call the circadian biological clock which disrupts the sleep cycle.
When it comes to medication, doctors can prescribe sleeping pills to help people with short-term insomnia but these are not without their problems. They can be highly addictive and do not always provide restful sleep. These are only really suitable in short courses and as a last resort.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can also be helpful for insomnia and helps by allowing people to address the mental factors that keep them awake at night, such as “racing” thoughts.
Restful and plentiful sleep is vital to our general health. If you are worried about your sleeping patterns, it’s best to discuss this with your GP.