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Below, you will find a short video and further information to help you


What is Insomnia?

Insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping. It usually gets better by changing your sleeping habits.

Check if you have insomnia

You have insomnia if you regularly:

  • find it hard to go to sleep
  • wake up several times during the night
  • lie awake at night
  • wake up early and cannot go back to sleep
  • still feel tired after waking up
  • find it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
  • feel tired and irritable during the day
  • find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired

If you have insomnia for a short time (less than 3 months) it’s called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts 3 months or longer is called long-term insomnia.


Specialist support

Below, you will find organisations and charities who are best suited to assist you

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

The National Sleep Helpline

Who do I talk to if I can’t sleep? The National Sleep Helpline can help with your sleep problems.

Let's talk..

How much sleep you need

Everyone needs different amounts of sleep.

On average:

adults need 7 to 9 hours

children need 9 to 13 hours

toddlers and babies need 12 to 17 hours

You probably do not get enough sleep if you’re constantly tired during the day.

What causes insomnia

The most common causes are:

stress, anxiety or depression


a room that’s too hot or cold

uncomfortable beds

alcohol, caffeine or nicotine

recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy

jet lag

shift work

How you can treat insomnia yourself


go to bed and wake up at the same time every day

relax at least 1 hour before bed, for example, take a bath or read a book

make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet – use curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs if needed

exercise regularly during the day

make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable


do not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed

do not eat a big meal late at night

do not exercise at least 4 hours before bed

do not watch television or use devices, like smartphones, right before going to bed, because the bright light makes you more awake

do not nap during the day

do not drive when you feel sleepy

do not sleep in after a bad night’s sleep and stick to your regular sleeping hours instead

How a pharmacist can help with insomnia

You can buy tablets or liquids (sometimes called sleeping aids) from a pharmacy that may help you sleep better.

Some contain natural ingredients (valerian or lavender) while others, like Nytol, are an antihistamine.

They cannot cure insomnia but may help you sleep better for 1 to 2 weeks. They should not be taken for any longer.

Some of these products can have side effects, for instance, they may make you drowsy. This could make it difficult for you to do certain things like drive.

Check with your doctor before taking anything for your sleep problems.

Treatment from a GP

A GP will try to find out what’s causing your insomnia so you get the right treatment.

Sometimes you’ll be referred to a therapist for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

This can help you change the thoughts and behaviours that keep you from sleeping.

You may be referred to a sleep clinic if you have symptoms of another sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea.

GPs now rarely prescribe sleeping pills to treat insomnia. Sleeping pills can have serious side effects and you can become dependent on them.

Sleeping pills are only prescribed for a few days, or weeks at the most, if:

your insomnia is very bad

other treatments have not worked

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