Sleep Disorders

Updated 24 August 2018

Who gets insomnia?

Insomnia refers to an inability to sleep and is extremely common.


Research points to a global prevalence of acute (short-term) insomnia in approximately 30% of the adult population, with chronic insomnia (insomnia disorder) affecting approximately 10% of the population.

Insomnia is common in women, older adults and people with medical and mental-health problems. It also occurs more frequently in people who work irregular shifts or who have disabilities.

Personal or work stress, noise, drug and substance abuse, and the use of certain medications (e.g. certain antidepressants, beta blockers and corticosteroids) may contribute to insomnia.

Read more:
Causes of insomnia

Reviewed by Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, specialist neuropsychiatrist in sleep disorders at The London Sleep Centre and The Constantia Sleep Centre. FRCPsych. April 2018.


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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