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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition that affects the quality, timing and/or duration of sleep. It is characterised by the difficulty in falling sleep, staying asleep and/or waking frequently during the night and being unable to get back to sleep.

  • Environmental factors including noise, light and temperature
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol or caffeine consumption, shift work or jet-lag
  • Medical conditions causing pain, itch, cough or breathlessness etc.
  • Psychological factors and psychiatric disorders
  • Difficulty staying awake during daytime
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling sleepy or tired during the day
  • Low mood
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed reaction
  • Trouble concentrating at home, work or school

Insomnia can be treated using medication or with therapy such as relaxation therapy.

Good sleep hygiene can also help to improve sleep and prevent it from worsening. Some recommendations include:
  • Avoid having caffeine, nicotine or alcohol in the few hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid taking excessive naps in the day.
  • Eat a light snack before bedtime if hungry. Avoid a large meal before bedtime. Avoid fluids two hours before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly. Try to finish exercise few hours before bedtime.
  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Use your bed for sleeping and sexual activity only, not as a place to watch television, use mobile phones or do any other stimulating activities.
  • Have a conducive and comfortable bedroom environment. Keep it dark, quiet, well-ventilated and at a comfortable temperature. Ensure that the bedding and pillows are comfortable and suitable for you.
  • If you are unable to sleep after 15 minutes, get out of bed and do some light reading or listen to soothing music. Return to the bed only when you feel sleepy.
  • If you have a clock by your bedside, keep the clock face turned away from you. Avoid watching the clock when unable to sleep.
  • Spend some time to wind down before bedtime, such as taking a warm bath, listening to music or muscle relaxation.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Wake up at about the same time every morning.
Disrupted sleep can have many adverse consequences, as sleep is important for good health, mental well-being and optimal cognitive functioning. If you find that your sleep problem persists, and interferes with your mood, work or social functioning, you may need to seek medical advice.
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