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Understanding Insomnia

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it hard to go to sleep, stay asleep during the night, or cause you to wake up too early. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, around one in ten people have at least mild insomnia at any given time.

Some signs that you may have insomnia include:

  • Difficulty going to sleep
  • Lying awake at night
  • Waking up several times during the night
  • Waking up too early and not being able to go back to sleep.


If you have insomnia, it can start to impact your day-to-day activities, and you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Feeling tired after waking up
  • Feeling irritable or moody
  • Unable to concentrate during the day
  • Lack of energy
  • Worrying about sleep.


What can cause insomnia?

There are many reasons why someone may have insomnia. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Feeling stressed or anxious
  • Changing schedules or work shifts
  • Experiencing a stressful or traumatic event
  • Being less active
  • Having an uncomfortable sleeping environment (e.g. temperature, noise)
  • Drinking caffeine – makes it harder to fall asleep
  • Drinking alcohol – contributes to disrupted sleep
  • Having an underlying physical or mental health condition
  • Living with chronic pain
  • Experiencing side effects from prescribed medication
  • Having other sleep disorders (e.g. restless leg syndrome).


Tips to help you have a better night’s sleep

Changing your sleeping habits can help you to manage your insomnia. Try the following tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Start relaxing for at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep.
  • Make your room as dark, quiet, and as comfortably cool as possible.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. If you need some tech help, there are apps that can help set up a sleep schedule and plan a wind-down routine.
  • Avoid large meals late at night.
  • Stay away from screens just before going to bed (e.g. phone, TV, video games).
  • Avoid afternoon naps if possible.
  • Eliminate or reduce alcohol and caffeine, especially before bed.
  • Keep active during the day but avoid strenuous exercise before bed.

Seeking help for insomnia

If you have ongoing sleep problems, you should see your doctor. The treatment recommended will depend on what is causing insomnia and may include:

  • Sleep hygiene techniques
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Counselling or referral to psychological support
  • Referral to a sleep clinic
  • Online self-help programs (e.g. This Way Up Insomnia Program).


Our CAREinMIND counsellors are available 24/7 on 1300 096 269 or click the floating chat button on the right. The service is free for people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.