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Insomnia, parasomnia and hypersomnia

Insomnia and other sleep disorders

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

About

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep, or getting enough sleep to function well. It’s a common sleep problem, affecting 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

  • Symptoms of sleep disorders icon plus

    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
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    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.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

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