Insomnia is characterised by a difficulty in getting to sleep, and then once asleep actually staying asleep. It causes abnormal and disturbed sleep patterns on a regular basis. The sufferer may constantly wake during the night and then have great difficulty getting back to sleep again. They tend to wake early in the morning, and again cannot get back to sleep. Due to the sleep deprivation the sufferer will feel constantly fatigued, be irritable and have difficulty in functioning on a day to day basis.

Psychological problems are the most common causes of insomnia. These include depression, stress, anxiety and the misuse of alcohol and drugs. With stress and anxiety it can become a roundabout. The person feels anxious before they even go to bed, thinking that they are not going to be able to sleep. They then cannot sleep due to this anxiety they have created, their mind cannot relax. This then creates a pattern; it all becomes a vicious circle. ADHD can cause insomnia, as well as some psychotic disorders for example schizophrenia.

A variety of physical illnesses and many prescription drugs can also cause sleep problems, and sleep deprivation.

Insomnia is more common in older people and can run in families, with the mother being the most common factor. Insomnia can significantly impact on a person’s quality of life.