Insomnia, parasomnia and hypersomnia


If you're experiencing insomnia, daytime sleepiness or sleep disturbances, HCA UK's experts explain the help available.

About insomnia

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint is the UK, it is a condition where you have difficulty in getting to sleep, or getting enough sleep to function well. It affects up to one in three people in the UK at some point in their lives. Hypersomnia is excessive sleepiness and difficulty staying awake during the day.

If you experience unusual behaviour during sleep it is known as parasomnia.

Need to know

Common symptoms of insomnia include regularly:

  • experiencing difficulty getting to sleep
  • waking up throughout the night and lying awake
  • waking too early and not getting back to sleep
  • not feeling refreshed or problems functioning in the daytime

People with hypersomnia will:

  • find themselves napping during the day, but still feel tired
  • fall asleep quite suddenly during the day, sometimes while talking or eating

Symptoms of parasomnia include:

  • unusual or unwanted behaviour while sleeping, including sleepwalking, nightmares, night terrors and bedwetting
  • confusion when woken from sleep
  • abnormal facial expressions or rapid eye movement during sleep

If you're experiencing sleep problems, including chronic insomnia, daytime sleepiness or sleep walking, your consultant might recommend an overnight sleep study called a polysomnography (PSG).

This is the main test used to analyse your brain and body as you sleep, helping to diagnose sleep disorders. Painless sensors are attached to your head and body to monitor your brain waves, eye movement, heart rate and muscle activity during sleep. A clip on your finger measures your oxygen levels, and a sensor measures your breathing. A video will also monitor you, helping consultants build up an accurate picture of what's happening while you sleep.

Often, lifestyle changes can help to improve insomnia and your quality of sleep. This can include looking at your diet, sleeping pattern, exercise routine and what’s causing you stress. Cognitive behaviour therapy can be a useful therapy to help you address the thoughts and behaviours that are stopping you from sleeping, or causing unwanted events to happen while you sleep.

Hypersomnia is often linked to other issues, such as depression, narcolepsy or sleep apnoea, so your treatment will depend on what’s causing it. In some cases, medication may help to stop you falling asleep suddenly during the day.

Our Insomnia, parasomnia and hypersomnia locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London

The Physicians' Clinic

14 Devonshire Street W1G 7AE London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.