What causes sleep problems?

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

  • A poor sleep routine, such as going to bed too early or too late, or not relaxing properly before going to bed
  • A poor sleep environment, such as sleeping somewhere uncomfortable, or with too much light or noise
  • Changes to sleep patterns, perhaps because of working night shifts or sleeping in a new place
  • Unhelpful psychological associations, such as developing anxiety about going to sleep after a period of poor sleep, or associating the bedroom with being active and awake
  • Physical illness causing discomfort or pain, such as a physical sleep condition (e.g. sleep apnoea), ora hormone or neurological disorder (e.g. Parkinson’s disease)
  • Alcohol, street drugs and stimulants, such as caffeine or nicotine
  • Medication with trouble sleeping as a side effect, such as epilepsy and asthma medication, or antidepressants
  • Stress, worry and anxiety
  • Feeling nervous about a specific issue
  • Trauma, such as an accident,  bereavement, or long-term abuse
  • Mental health problems (see ‘Sleep and mental health’)
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