It’s often difficult to define ‘normal sleep’ as we are all different. Our lifestyles and the environment we find ourselves in both influence the amount and quality of sleep that we receive.
The majority of us will experience some form of sleep problem during our lives and although for the majority of us our normal sleep pattern will resume after a short period of time, for others it can last weeks, months and even years. The most common sleep problems are often separated into 5 sections:
- Night terrors/Nightmares
- Sleep Paralysis
- Sleep Walking
So what causes sleep problems?
The UK charity MIND references the most common causes of sleep problems as:
- a poor sleep routine – going to bed too early or too late, or not relaxing properly before bed
- a poor sleep environment – sleeping somewhere uncomfortable, or with too much light or noise
- changes to sleep patterns – working night shifts or sleeping in a new place can be a problem if your body doesn’t adjust
- unhelpful psychological associations – developing anxieties or phobias about going to sleep after a period of poor sleep, or associating the bedroom with being active
- physical illness – being uncomfortable or in pain, having a physical sleep condition such as snoring or sleep apnoea (problems breathing while sleeping), or having a hormone or neurological disorder such as an overactive thyroid or Parkinson’s disease
- alcohol, street drugs and stimulants – (including caffeine and nicotine)
- medication – having trouble sleeping as a side effect of certain medication, such as epilepsy and asthma drugs, or antidepressants
- stress, worry and anxiety – feeling nervous about a specific issue, such as work, money, family or relationships; or a specific event, such as an interview or appointment
- trauma – finding it hard to sleep after experiencing a traumatic event, such as an accident or a bereavement; experiencing long-term sleep problems as a result of long-term trauma or abuse, particularly if the trauma happened during childhood
- mental health problems
If you identify with any of the above sleep disorders then your GP may be able to suggest ways that you can improve your sleep, such as keeping to a regular sleeping routine and creating a restful sleeping environment. For a list of GP’s within the Cambridgeshire area please click here.