Whilst everyone can have difficulty sleeping from time-to-time, certain factors can make it more likely for some people to experience ongoing sleeping problems, known as insomnia, which can start to affect day-to-day life.
- Poor mental health – people experiencing problems like anxiety and stress often have racing thoughts, muscle tension and a faster heart beat which make it difficult to relax and sleep well. Some people experiencing depression may oversleep during the day and stay awake at night troubled by different thoughts and feelings.
- Stressful or upsetting life events – such as money, work or family worries, redundancy or the break-down of a relationship.
- Bereavement, loss or a major life change.
- Traumatic or difficult events – when someone experiences a life-threatening danger, abuse or crime whether recently or in the past. People with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may relive traumatic events through distressing dreams, flashbacks or night terrors and may also experience hyper-vigilance or alertness to danger which may make it very difficult to sleep.
- Pain or discomfort caused by health conditions like arthritis or a long-term/severe illness.
- Physical issues – needing to get up to go to the toilet more often (particularly common in older people), the menopause, pregnancy, high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid problems can all affect sleep.
- Working night shifts – working through the night can upset a person’s natural body clock which is set to be awake during the day and asleep at night. It can also be harder to sleep well during the day if you’re disturbed by light and noise.
- Some medications such as antidepressants can disrupt sleep – talk to a GP if you’re concerned.
- Age – older people tend to need less sleep and sleep lighter, waking up more times during the night.