Most people will have trouble sleeping at some stage in their life. However, poor sleep over a period of time can increase your risk of certain medical conditions (like cardiovascular disease and diabetes) as well as motor vehicle and work place accidents.


  • Stress and depression.
  • Snoring or sleep apnoea.
  • Restless leg syndrome.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • Some medications.
  • Shift work or jet lag.
  • Caffeine or alcohol in the evening.
  • Smoking or nicotine replacement products.
  • Pregnancy or menopause.


Insomnia can affect the levels of different hormones in the body, but the ones I find most interesting are those that regulate fat and hunger. Poor sleep can reduce the hormone that regulates fat and increase the hormone that makes you hungry.   This is something worth considering if you struggle with your weight despite a healthy lifestyle.


  • Spend some time in the sun during the day and keep the bedroom as dark as possible at night. This regulates melatonin (sleep hormone) levels and circadian rhythm.
  • Limit napping through the day.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule to develop a good sleep pattern.
  • Avoid TV, computers and phone for an hour before bedtime as the light can make the brain think it is still daytime.
  • Exercising during the day improves the quality of sleep.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
  • If you have not fallen asleep in 20 minutes, get up and walk around the house or read a book until you feel sleepy.
  • Lavender oil – have a diffuser in your bedroom or rub some onto your skin.
  • Melatonin is becoming a more popular treatment, as it does not cause daytime drowsiness or dependence. Homeopathic products are available from your pharmacy and stronger formulations are available with a doctors prescription.
  • Sleeping pills (both over the counter and prescription) can be used short term, however, it is important to speak to your doctor or pharmacist to explore the most appropriate treatment.
  • Relaxation techniques – for more information click the link .
  • Herbal treatments including valerian, kava, passionflower, hops, chamomile and St John’s wort have been traditionally used to promote sleep and relaxation.


  • Insomnia may be a sign of an underlying medical condition so talk to your doctor or pharmacist if it has been a problem for longer than 1 month.
  • Sleeping pills can create dependence and other side effects such as morning drowsiness, confusion and reduced daytime alertness.
  • Speak to your pharmacist about possible interactions with any sleep aid and your current medications.
  • If you wake up wheezing or coughing see you doctor as soon as possible.


For more information click the link .