What are sleep problems?

Everyone has problems sleeping at times. We all have had nights where we found it hard to fall asleep, found ourselves waking up in the middle of the night, or experienced dreams that disturb our sleep. This is perfectly normal. Often, these problems will resolve themselves after a short period of time.

However, if you have sleep problems that last weeks, months or years, this can start to have an impact on your day-to-day life. If you continue to sleep badly, this can affect your energy levels, mood, and concentration. It can also have an impact on your relationships and social life. It may also affect your ability to carry out usual day-to-day tasks, such as studying, going to work, and daily chores.

If poor sleep is having a significant impact on your daily life, you will generally be considered to have a sleep problem. The most common sleep problems are listed below.


If you suffer from insomnia, it means that you have difficulty falling asleep or getting back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night. It also means that you find yourself waking up very early in the morning, and find that sleeping does not refresh you, causing you to feel constantly tired. With insomnia, you may experience disturbed or light sleep, or wake up and fall back to sleep several times in a night.


Oversleeping is sleeping more than your body needs. While this may have less of an impact on your daily life than insomnia, some studies have linked chronic oversleeping with physical problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Nightmares and night terrors

Nightmares are intense, frightening dreams that cause you to wake up, sometimes leaving you feeling very scared. They are often related to events or experiences in your life.

Night terrors are like nightmares, but they occur during deep sleep. Night terrors cause a deep sense of fear, an increase in your heart rate and sweating. You may also scream, shout, or cry in your sleep. Often, people find it difficult to wake up from a night terror and afterwards have little or no memory of what has happened.

Nightmares and night terrors can affect the quality of your sleep, and cause general anxiety about falling asleep that may lead to insomnia.

Sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis is when you wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself unable to move or speak. This occurs because there are still sleep hormones in your muscles. It usually lasts between a couple of seconds to a few minutes. Although it cannot harm you, sleep paralysis can be extremely scary, and may lead to anxiety about falling asleep that may lead to insomnia.

Sleep walking

Sleepwalking involves getting up in the night and walking, moving around, or even carrying  out activities, such as tidying or washing up. It is not usually a problem unless you injure yourself during it, for example by banging into things or tripping over. Sleepwalking can disrupt your sleep and affect how rested you feel the next day.

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