What causes sleep problems?

There are many reasons you may experience sleep problems. Common causes of sleep problems are:

  • a poor sleep routine – going to bed too early or too late, or not relaxing properly before bed
  • a poor sleep environment – sleeping somewhere uncomfortable, or with too much light or noise
  • changes to sleep patterns – working night shifts or sleeping in a new place can be a problem if your body doesn’t adjust
  • unhelpful psychological associations – developing anxieties or phobias about going to sleep after a period of poor sleep, or associating the bedroom with being active
  • physical illness – being uncomfortable or in pain, having a physical sleep condition such as snoring or sleep apnoea (problems breathing while sleeping), or having a hormone or neurological disorder such as an overactive thyroid or Parkinson’s disease
  • alcohol, street drugs and stimulants – (including caffeine and nicotine)
  • medication – having trouble sleeping as a side effect of certain medication, such as epilepsy and asthma drugs, or antidepressants stress, worry and anxiety – feeling nervous about a specific issue, such as work, money, family or relationships; or a specific event, such as an interview or appointment
  • trauma – finding it hard to sleep after experiencing a traumatic event,such as an accident or a bereavement; experiencing long-term sleep
  • problems as a result of long-term trauma or abuse, particularly if the
  • trauma happened during childhood
  • mental health problems (see below)
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