We spend a third of our lives, or an average of 24 years sleeping – and yet up to 95% of us at some time have trouble sleeping.
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  • Updated:23 May 2000



What is it and who gets it?

We spend a third of our lives, or an average of 24 years sleeping – and yet up to 95% of us at some time have trouble sleeping.
If you suffer from insomnia, you will be experiencing one or more of the following problems:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep (sleep initiation insomnia)
  • Difficulty staying asleep, waking often or for long periods through the night (sleep maintenance insomnia)
  • Feeling sleepy through the day
  • Feeling that lack of sleep is affecting the quality of your daily activities

Please note: this information was current as of May 2000 but is still a useful guide today.

If the insomnia only lasts a few nights, it’s called transient insomnia and is usually associated with stress, excitement or a change in sleep environment. If you can’t sleep well for a few weeks, it’s called short term insomnia and usually relates to some stressful life circumstance. If you’ve had problems sleeping for more than a month, it’s called chronic insomnia, and you are not alone.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 27% of people suffer from chronic insomnia. Australians are no different. An Australian study found that 17% of men and 25% of women reported difficulty sleeping, and yet only 31% had sought medical care.

Putting a dollar value on insomnia is even more revealing. The estimated direct cost of insomnia in the US in 1995 was US$13.9 billion.

The good news is that whatever type of insomnia you have, there is easy help available. Once you understand more about insomnia and sleep, you have an 80% chance of sleeping better. That’s pretty good odds, worth spending the time to check out the six simple steps to a better night’s sleep. Make sure check out the Six steps:

  • Step 1: Your body understands when it is time to sleep
  • Step 2: You have the most comfortable conditions for your body to sleep
  • Step 3: Your body is in the best possible condition to sleep
  • Step 4: Your body understands that bed means sleep
  • Step 5: You learn how to stop yourself feeling anxious about sleeping
  • Step 6: Your sleeping problems are not because of an underlying illness.

*Dr Alison Vickers is a GP with a passion for preventing illness, and a belief in the power of health information.

This article was last reviewed May 2000



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