Insomnia occurs when an individual experiences difficulty initiating and/or maintaining sleep or finds sleep non-restorative. Most people will experience insomnia at some time, however chronic insomnia can be detrimental to physical and emotional health.
Short-term insomnia can be caused by anxiety, pain, alcohol, medication, shift-work, stimulant drinks such as coffee, noise or uncomfortable temperatures. Remember you are not alone, as around 30% of adults suffer from insomnia at some time.
Chronic insomnia, particularly if associated with objectively measured short sleep times, can be a hazard to future health. However many people with insomnia perceive short sleep but on objective testing have normal sleep length. It is often important to know this as it influences treatment choices. Treatments include a range of behavioural strategies and in some cases medication. In certain cases insomnia may be an early symptom of a mood disorder.
Our current research focuses on understanding the causes of different types of insomnia disorder, insomnia in pregnancy and how it influences post-natal depression, how pain and insomnia may interact, using e-health or pharmacists to treat insomnia and investigating brain structure using MRI techniques. We also have trialled new medication treatments for insomnia including orexin antagonists.