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Insomnia is a very common problem in the community. It encompasses difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia) and difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia). Insomnia becomes a problem when it affects daytime function. There are various causes and contributors to insomnia. Some of them include:

  • Poor sleep hygiene -( things you do around sleep that promote sleep)
  • Environmental disturbance
  • Medications
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Active mind
  • Insomnia due to learnt patterns and associations
  • Patients with circadian rhythm disorders may complain of insomnia, but what they really have is a shift in their biological clock.
  • Some patients misperceive how much they are sleeping and think they are awake when they are actually asleep.

When you see a sleep physician for insomnia the assessment includes a thorough review of your sleep habits and history, the impact on your life, your medications, you may need a sleep study which can be organised in your home environment, you may be asked to keep a sleep diary.

Medications are used as a last resort in insomnia. Treatment includes correction of sleep hygiene, any underlying sleep disorders, addressing anxiety and depression if present, cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness meditation.