A constant inability to go to sleep or stay asleep, leading to excessive tiredness.
The most frequent cause of insomnia is stress, but other causes include physical symptoms such as itching, cough, or conditions such as ‘restless legs’. Lifestyle and environmental factors (such as noise, jet lag, and excessive alcohol or caffeine) or misuse of sleeping pills are also known causes. Insomnia can be a symptom of a psychological problem such as depression and/or anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants, sleeping drugs, antianxiety drugs, and some illegal drugs can also cause insomnia.
Those suffering with insomnia should make sure they get enough exercise throughout the day and moniter their caffeine and alcohol intake. They would also do well to avoid eating late at night and stick to a set sleeping routine/pattern. If insomnia is extreme or constant, counselling, or cognitive-behavioural therapy can be useful, especially if the underlying cause is a psychological problem.
Sleeping drugs should be only used for a short period and only on medical recommendation. Possible complementary therapies for insomnia include aromatherapy and acupuncture.