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Sleep Disorders

17 August 2010

Is insomnia what you have?

Insomnia is the inability to sleep, or to sleep satisfactorily, and is the most common sleep disorder.

What is insomnia?

Who is at risk?

  • Women: Women appear to be more prone to insomnia than men. The following factors may also contribute to the condition:
    • The menstrual cycle: Studies have found that 50% of menstruating women reported bloating that disturbed their sleep for two to three days each cycle. Women who suffer from Pre-Menstrual Syndrome may have symptoms of anxiety, irritability or depression, which may lead to insomnia.
    • Menopause: Sleep patterns tend to change with menopause, and insomnia becomes more common.
    • Pregnancy: Sleeplessness is common during pregnancy, especially in the later weeks.
  • Elderly people: Ageing brings a change in sleeping patterns, resulting in typically lighter, more fitful sleep.
  • Depressed individuals: People with a history of depression tend to have disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia

  • Difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep, or waking up too early.
  • Waking up feeling unrefreshed or drowsy. In more severe cases of insomnia, people may feel fatigued, depressed, anxious or irritable.
  • People with insomnia often suffer from daytime sleepiness.

 

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Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

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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