What ‘a good night’s sleep’ means for one person might be different for another. Some people might need more than 8 hours of sleep to feel rested while other people might need less. It is also normal to experience some variation in sleep from night to night and for your sleep patterns to change as you age. However, ongoing sleep difficulties, which leave you feeling constantly tired, can signal a more serious problem - insomnia. Ongoing sleep problems can affect physical health, mental health, and quality of life, so addressing problems with sleep is essential for wellbeing.

Key Points

Many things can cause insomnia. Insomnia can be triggered by:
For most people, once a period of stress or change has passed and life has settled down, sleep returns to normal; for others, however, sleep problems can continue. We know that several health and lifestyle factors can also affect sleep, including:

Insomnia often leaves the person feeling frustrated, stressed, and worried about their sleep problems, which can make it even harder for them to sleep, and a sleep-worry cycle may then start.


The key symptom of insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early, despite having the opportunity to sleep well.  For insomnia to be diagnosed, sleep difficulties must have been present for more than one month.

Other common symptoms of insomnia include:

Seeking Help

If you are concerned about the quality of your sleep, if you are feel tired, sleepy or irritable during the day, or if your sleep problems are affecting your day-to-day activities, a medical checkup with a GP is important, to see if a health issue is affecting your sleep. Some people with insomnia benefit from a combination of medication and psychological interventions. A GP or medical specialist can offer advice and assistance around whether medication might be of benefit.

A referral to a sleep clinic might also be made. The sleep specialist can further assess the person’s sleep, and might arrange for the person's sleep to be monitored overnight, either at home or in the clinic, to better understand the reasons for the sleep problems and if the natural phases of sleep are disrupted in some way.

You might also consider seeking assistance from a psychologist. Psychologists are highly trained and qualified to treat people experiencing stress in their lives, and many have expertise working with sleep problems, using techniques based on best available research. Psychologists help people identify and learn to manage the factors that contribute to their sleep difficulties.

Psychologists begin their work by conducting a thorough assessment. You might be asked to keep a sleep diary, which includes a record of bedtimes, wake-times, the quality of sleep, and other issues. With this information, the psychologist can determine the best course of action.

If you are experiencing similar problems, please contact us.