What is insomnia?

When counting sheep to fall asleep just won’t cut it

For many, getting a full night of quality sleep is easier said than done, especially at the minute with everything that’s going on around us. But if you regularly spend the early hours of the morning daydreaming about night-time dreaming, you could have insomnia. Around a third of people experience insomnia at some point in their lives. Tossing and turning in bed isn’t fun. The good news is insomnia isn’t forever and making changes to your snoozing habits can help end the sleepless nights.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is when a person finds it hard to fall or stay asleep, when there’s the chance to do so. You may have insomnia if you regularly:

• Find it hard to go to sleep

• Wake up several times during the night

• Lie awake at night

• Wake up early and cannot go back to sleep

• Still feel tired after waking up

• Find it hard to nap during the day even though you're tired

• Feel tired and irritable during the day

What causes insomnia?

If your insomnia has started happening recently, it could have been triggered by a stressful life event. Maybe you’ve received some bad news about your job or someone close to you is sick. This stress can make it harder to fall or stay asleep, leading to poorer sleep quality. It's important to remember that any stressful events keeping you up at night will eventually pass. If your insomnia has been going on for quite a while, it could be caused by several other things including:

• Noise

• A room that's too hot or cold

• A bed that isn’t comfy

• Alcohol, caffeine or nicotine

• Recreational drugs, like cocaine or ecstasy

• Jet lag

• Shift work

Tips to get a better night's sleep

Adults need an average of between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If your relationship with sleep sits in the ‘it’s complicated’ category, you’re probably searching for the secret to a good night’s rest. You’ve come to the right place. Simple yet effective lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to your quality of sleep.

Try not to panic

Stressing about not falling asleep is stopping you from actually falling asleep. It’s a lose-lose situation, right? If you’re lying in bed worrying about the hours ticking away, try going to bed an hour earlier than you usually would. This gives you time to unwind with a good book or relax in the bath to calm your mind. Try writing down what’s on your mind before you turn off the lights. Empty your brain to stop a million and one thoughts racing around your head while you’re trying to drift off.

Turn out the lights

The body’s natural clock relies on light to figure out what time of day it is and to know when to feel awake and when to feel tired. Too much light, right before bedtime may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. During the day it’s important to embrace the sunlight. Open your curtains or blinds as soon as you wake up, sit near a window at work if you can and go for a walk outside during your lunch break. In the evening, dim the lights and when it’s time to sleep, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. If you’re disturbed by street lights outside your window, or bright summer sunlight too early in the morning, try blackout blinds or a sleep mask to help block out the light.

Comfort is key

An uncomfy bed and a messy bedroom can really affect the quality of your sleep. If you’re struggling to sleep, think about your bed, mattress and pillows. Could they do with a refresh? It’s recommended we replace our pillows every one to two years and mattresses every seven to 10 years. Treat yourself to some new slumber saviours to make bedtime as comfortable as possible. Your room should be a calm sleeping space. Quiet, tidy and kept at a temperature of around 18ºC.

Avoid your phone

*Eye-roll* we know you’ve heard the oldest rule in the sleep book so many times before but hear us out. Phone, laptops and TV screens all emit blue light which can lead to poor sleep. It’s best to avoid screens for at least an hour before you snooze. Even if you’re struggling to sleep, it’s super important to avoid the temptation to scroll. It will only delay your sleep even more.

You're never too old for a bedtime

Our bodies love a solid routine. Always aim to go to bed at the same time every day – yes, even at the weekend. This helps to train your body into a good sleeping pattern so you can get enough sleep every night.

Find your bedtime best friend

If you need a little extra help, there are many different sleeping aids to help you drift into your most peaceful sleep yet. We have a range of products to help you relax and unwind before visiting the land of nod. From making sure the lighting is just right, to relaxing pillow mists, it’s time to fall in love with sleep again.

Beating insomnia won’t happen overnight, but the sleepless nights won’t be forever. If changing your sleeping habits hasn’t worked and your insomnia is affecting your daily life, please speak with your GP.