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Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning. This happens despite having enough opportunity to sleep. 

Nearly everyone has problems sleeping at some point in their life and it is thought that a third of people in the UK have bouts of insomnia. Insomnia appears to be more common in women and more likely to occur with age.

There are several possible causes for insomnia, such as anxiety, a disrupted sleeping environment, or an underlying medical condition or health problem

The most common problem in young people with insomnia is difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia). An insomniac may also experience-waking in the night for no reason at all (most common in older people), not feeling refreshed after sleep and not being able to function normally during the day, feeling irritable and tired and finding it difficult to concentrate, waking when you have been disturbed from sleep by pain or noise, waking early in the morning (the least common type of sleep disturbance).

It may be helpful to have a set time for going to bed and waking up (and avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep); try to relax before going to bed; maintain a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright); avoid napping during the day; avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed; avoid exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise earlier in the day is helpful); avoid eating a heavy meal late at night, try to avoid watching or checking the clock throughout the night, and finally only use the bedroom for sleep and sex.

Some treatments that may be beneficial are acupuncture, relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioural therapy.