Insomnia means difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and/or not feeling refreshed by sleep.  It is very common and may be a symptom of another condition.  A refreshing sleep is important for our emotional and physical wellbeing. Poor sleep can lead to drowsiness, poor concentration and other symptoms that interfere with daytime activities.

Causes of Insomnia

Insomnia is a common complaint and most people do not require pharmacological treatment.  Insomnia can be classified as transient/short-term or if lasting more than 1 month, persistent/chronic. 
Transient/short-term insomnia: is usually caused by particular events such as stressful life events, jet lag, illness, medications or change in sleeping environment or patterns.  Once the event is over, normal sleeping patterns resume.
Persistent/chronic insomnia: can be caused by many things including but not limited to; medical and psychiatric conditions, chronic use of drugs and alcohol, restless legs syndrome, circadian rhythm disorders or sleep apnoea syndromes.

Characterisitics of Insomnia

Insomnia is a symptom, not a disease and so the cause (or causes) of insomnia needs to be identified and corrected. The only defining characteristics of insomnia are; self-reported sleeping problems, day time tiredness or simply not being satisfied with the quality of sleep.

Treatment of Insomnia

Transient/short-term: some suggestions include:

  • If you can’t sleep, get up, go to another room and do something else until you feel sleepy again
  • Try to get up at the same time every morning to get back into a routine
  • Don’t nap during the day
  • Cut down on smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Avoid tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks before bed
  • Don’t exercise strenuously just before bedtime
  • Don’t watch television or do work in bed
  • Try a relaxing activity such as meditating or having a warm bath before bed
  • Only go to bed if you feel sleepy

Persistent/chronic Insomnia: suggestions listed for transient insomnia may also be helpful.
To treat this form of insomnia may require referral to a doctor or sleep clinic for further investigation or a sleep test to determine whether sleep apnoea may be the cause.

Next Steps

A Pharmacy 777 Pharmacist Consultation can help to identify and/or eliminate possible causes of insomnia.

Transient/short-term insomnia:  Pharmacy 777 stores carry a range of effective practitioner products and supplements which have clinical evidence and/or traditional evidence to help relieve insomnia.  Our 777 Pharmacists can recommend an appropriate product depending on the cause of insomnia.  Supplements and herbs may be beneficial - ask your Pharmacy 777 Pharmacist which ones may be of benefit to you.  Your 777 Pharmacist may also suggest an over-the-counter sleeping medication if suitable for short-term use. 

Persistent/chronic insomnia: An assessment by a 777 Pharmacist can indicate if obstructive sleep apnoea may be the cause of poor quality of sleep and day time tiredness.  If results from the assessment indicate a high possibility of sleep apnoea, screening for sleep apnoea can be carried out, or you may require a referral to a doctor or sleep clinic for further investigation.


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