Symptoms of insomnia 

The symptoms of insomnia depend on the type of sleeping problem you have.

In the UK, up to a third of people are thought to experience insomnia at some point each year. Symptoms can include:

  • lying awake for long periods at night before falling asleep
  • waking up several times during the night
  • waking up early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep
  • feeling tired and not refreshed by sleep
  • not being able to function properly during the day and finding it difficult to concentrate
  • irritability

A lack of sleep can also affect your mood and cause tiredness and fatigue during the day.

How much sleep do I need?

It's difficult to define what 'normal sleep' is because every individual is different. Many things influence the amount of sleep you need, including your age, lifestyle, diet and environment.

Most healthy adults sleep for about seven to nine hours a night. As you get older, it becomes more difficult to maintain that amount, even though you still need it.

When to visit your GP

You should consider speaking to your GP if a lack of sleep is affecting your daily life and you feel that it's causing a problem.

Fatigue caused by insomnia can affect your mood and create problems with personal relationships and in the workplace.

Read more about simple methods that may help prevent insomnia.

Sleep diary

Your GP may suggest that you keep a sleep diary.

Keep a record of your sleep habits for at least two weeks including details of:

  • the time you go to bed
  • how long it takes to get to sleep
  • the number of times you wake up during the night and at what time
  • the number of daytime naps
  • the times of meals, alcohol consumption, exercise and stress

Page last reviewed: 09/12/2013

Next review due: 09/12/2015