All about sleep problems

It's important to get enough sleep to function well during the day. There are a lot of things, including mental health issues that can interrupt sleep patterns. You can also employ a range of strategies to make sure you get the sleep you need.

This could be for you if:

  • You're not sure if you're getting enough sleep
  • You want to know possible reasons you're having sleep issues 
  • You're looking for tactics to help you sleep
boy sleeping in lecture

Sleeping – what's normal?

Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to function properly. Different people need different amounts of sleep to feel refreshed, but if you're not getting seven hours or more, there's a good chance you're not at the top of your game during waking hours. Your energy and concentration levels, and your memory, could suffer.

Why am I having trouble sleeping?

There are a lot of things that can mess with your sleep patterns. They include:
  • Depression or anxiety
  • If you're stressing out over something
  • Breathing problems like asthma and apnoea
  • Trauma in your life (major and minor)
  • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol and other drugs 
  • Some contraceptives 
  • Jet-lag (see our fact sheet on 'circadian rhythms' for more info)
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Illness

If you're having trouble sleeping it can have a big impact on your everyday life, including:

  • Drowsiness, falling asleep during the day
  • Not being able to focus 
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Having trouble staying mentally alert
  • Being irritable or angry
  • Feeling anxious and stressed
  • Feeling depressed or down
  • Impacts on your physical performance

Sleeping problems can have pretty negative impacts but there are things you can do to overcome them.  

What to do about sleep problems?

There are a lot of strategies you can try to help you overcome sleeping issues. Read more about how to get a good night's sleep and getting into a sleeping routine for more info. If your problems with sleep are causing you serious distress, there might be something more serious going on, so it's worth visiting your GP for a consultation. Managing your sleeping issues will be much easier and quicker with a doctor's help. 

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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