Insomnia: Why you might be having trouble sleeping this summer - and what you can do about it

Insomnia regularly affects an estimated one in three adults in the UK, and can be caused by a range of different issues.

Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 12:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 12:20 pm
Insomnia can be caused by a number of factors - but there are things you can to try to combat it.

Environmental factors play a huge part in it, so make your bedroom as ‘sleep friendly’ as possible, and this includes good ventilation, particularly when the weathermen predict a heatwave.

Try to keep the room cool before you go to bed and use lightweight, cotton covers.

You could try running cold water across your wrists before night time and ensuring you are hydrated.

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This brings me to another common reason we get up more frequently in the night as we age - the need for the loo.

This can be caused by prostate enlargement in men or an overactive bladder in women.

But other conditions, such as heartburn, arthritis and the menopause, can also keep us tossing and turning into the small hours.

It’s always good idea to visit your GP and check out whether there’s an underlying reason why you can’t sleep and what can be done to help.

Look at your daytime routine as well.

Avoid napping if you can, and try to get out and about in the sunshine.

If you don’t, this can affect what we call the circadian biological clock, which disrupts the sleep cycle.

When it comes to medication, doctors can prescribe sleeping pills to help people with short-term insomnia, but these are not without their problems.

They can be highly addictive and do not always provide restful sleep. These are only really suitable in short courses and as a last resort.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can also be helpful for insomnia, and helps by allowing people to address the mental factors that keep them awake at night, such as “racing” thoughts.

Restful and plentiful sleep is vital to our general health.

If you are worried about your sleeping patterns, it’s best to discuss this with your GP or an online doctor.

* This advice is from Dr. Alexandra Phelan, a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.