Practitioners near you who treat insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. It can also relate to waking up early in the morning and being unable to fall asleep again.

Some people have insomnia for one night, while others battle with it for weeks or months. In both instances, insomnia symptoms can make you feel tired, sluggish, and unable to give peak performance. It can effect you at home, school, work and during social activities.

Transient insomnia lasts less than 1 month

Short-term insomnia hangs around for 1 to 6 months

Chronic insomnia persists for more than 6 months

Insomnia can also be divided into 2 categories:

Primary Insomnia

When the signs of insomnia do not relate to any other health condition. The majority of insomnia research uses patients with Primary Insomnia.

Comorbid Insomnia

Occurs when insomnia exists at the same time as another physical or psychological condition. Most cases of insomnia fall into this category, and it often makes the accompanying condition worse or harder to treat. Comorbid Insomnia is common in patients with chronic pain, cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), overactive thyroid and Parkinson’s disease.

Health experts recommend that adults get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. But insomnia doesn’t necessarily exist if you consistently get less sleep than this, e.g. 6 hours. Insomnia is a problem if you want to get more sleep, or feel like you’re lacking sleep, but your body/mind just won’t let you slip into sleep mode.

Insomnia can begin at any age, even childhood.

The Sleep Health Foundation tells us that at least than 50% of Australian adults are dealing with chronic sleep disorders. Insomnia symptoms are particularly common for seniors because of:

  • Less physical and social activity
  • Natural changes to the internal body clock (getting tired earlier in the day, then waking early in the morning)
  • Health changes, such as chronic pain, frequent urination, restless legs syndrome
  • Medications, which are often used to control the health changes mentioned above. 

Insomnia is also common amongst entrepreneurs and creatives. Many of them wake at 4am each morning feeling tired, but are unable to get back to sleep. They often proclaim that ‘4am is when inspiration strikes‘. While this may be true, if they’re feeling tired from their early wake up call, no matter how productive or creative they’ve been, reality is they probably have a form of insomnia.

Regardless of your age or career, it’s important to understand what causes insomnia for YOU. This is the best way to connect with the insomnia treatments that match your unique situation.

World Sleep Day is celebrated around the Autumn equinox (March/April) each year. It’s a reminder that sleep is essential for physical and mental health, and that lacking sleep is a REAL problem that can lead to health and social issues.

Celebrities with Insomnia

Madonna revealed in a Rolling Stone interview that she’s struggled with insomnia for decades. She also noted that it’s probably her own fault and relates to her crazy routine. Apparently, she would stay in the recording studio until 2am, but still wake up at 7am to be with her children. This is a good example of Primary Insomnia.

Mariah Carey has openly talked about her ‘search for sleep’. A busy schedule, regularly being up late and living an adrenaline-filled life have all made it difficult for her to get satisfying sleep. However, it’s likely that Mariah deals with Comorbid Insomnia as she also has bipolar disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

Insomnia symptoms and signs include:

Physical: Difficulty falling asleep at night, waking during the night, waking up too early and being unable to fall asleep again, not feeling rested after sleep, daytime tiredness, increased errors, prone to accidents.

Psychological: Irritability, depression, anxiety, poor concentration, impaired memory, worrying about sleep.

Treatments for Insomnia

Research-based insomnia treatments that have proven to be useful include:

  • Sleep Schedule – Stick to a regular sleep schedule and you’ll find it much easier to regularly get satisfying sleep.
  • Exercise – All forms of exercise release feel-good chemicals that help your body and mind relax. Studies show that exercise can decrease sleep problems and insomnia. 
  • Medications – Prescription sleeping pills help the body/mind relax and prepare for sleep. Doctors recommend them as a short term option only, and are hesitant to prescribe anyone sleeping medication in the long term. They often go hand-in-hand with side effects, such as daytime grogginess, dizziness and confusion.
  • Psychotherapy – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is considered one of the most effective options to patients with primary and comorbid insomnia.
  • Alternative Therapies – Many allied health professionals can create natural insomnia treatment plans. Speak with Psychologists, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists.

Causes of Insomnia

What causes insomnia for one person, won’t necessarily be the primary cause in another. However, the most common insomnia causes include:

  • Stress: Worrying about life circumstances (family, friends, work, school) can keep your mind active at night. A busy mind finds it difficult to sleep. It also contributes to muscle tension, anxiety, inflammation and pain sensitivity in the long term. 
  • Schedule: If you do shift work or have an erratic schedule, you’re more prone to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, such as insomnia. Your circadian rhythm is like an internal clock that helps regulate your awake and sleep times.
  • Overeating at night: Eating a heavy meal late at night, or eating too much before bedtime, increases your risk of reflux, heartburn and physical discomfort when lying down. This makes it difficult to relax and slip into restful sleep mode.
  • Devices: Using phones, iPads and other backlit electronic devices at night makes it harder for you to fall asleep. These devices emit a form of blue light that disrupts the hormone melatonin, which promotes healthy sleep and helps you quieten your mind before bed.
  • Medications: Some pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medications cause insomnia as a side effect. 
  • Medical conditions: Many physical and psychological conditions are associated with signs of insomnia, e.g. pain, diabetes, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder. The hormonal changes that occur during menstruation and menopause can also impair sleep. 
  • Caffeine: Having too much caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate or energy drinks can overstimulate your nervous system and make it difficult to sleep.

What Works For Insomnia – Natural Options

Here are some natural, drug-free insomnia treatments:

Relaxation Techniques nurture your body and mind to promote sleep. Try taking long, slow, deep breaths, massages, meditation, yoga, gentle music and self-care appointments that bring you joy. Anything that helps to lower your stress levels can also ease insomnia symptoms.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia is considered to be just as effective as sleep medications. It involves working with a psychologist to control or eliminate thoughts, worries or actions that keep you awake at night.

Nighttime meals, snacks and caffeinated are best finished at least 2 hours before bedtime. This gives your body time to digest your food before you lay down for sleep, which helps reduce heartburn and nervous system overstimulation.

Switch off devices 1-2 hours before bedtime. This allows your body to produce and use its natural sleep hormone, melatonin, more efficiently.

Acupuncture is an insomnia treatment that can relax the body and mind, without side effects. It’s useful for primary and comorbid insomnia.

Supplements can help induce a deep and healing state of sleep, e.g. Zizyphus, Valerian, Passionflower, Hops and Californian Poppy. A Naturopath can help you find the best herb for your insomnia.

Find A Professional

The following health experts can help with signs of insomnia:

  • Psychologists
  • Acupuncturists
  • Naturopaths
  • Massage Therapists
  • Reflexologists
  • Reiki Masters
  • Yoga Instructors

Avaana can help you find a trusted health expert in your area.

Supporting Someone With Insomnia

Here’s how to help someone with insomnia:

  1. Patience. People who sleep little are prone to being impatient and overwhelmed easily. If your friend has insomnia, be patient with them if they’re a little slow to respond to you verbally or more snappy than usual.
  2. Reminders. If you notice your friend drinking coffee at night or using their device up until bedtime, remind them the activity makes it harder for them to sleep.
  3. Recommend. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be just as effective as sleeping pills. If your friend has suffered with sleeplessness for a while, you could recommend this safe, popular and easy-to-access therapy to them. They can research it further if they’re interested.


What causes insomnia?

Insomnia symptoms can develop for a wide range of reasons. Here are 5 common causes: 

  1. Feeling stressed and/or anxious
  2. Doing shift work
  3. Using devices before bedtime, i.e. phones, iPads, laptops
  4. Hormone imbalances
  5. Side effects from medications

What are the 3 types of insomnia?

  • Transient insomnia lasts less than 1 month
  • Short-term insomnia hangs around for 1 to 6 months
  • Chronic insomnia persists for more than 6 months

How can I stop my insomnia?

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Use relaxation techniques before bed
  • Try cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Stop using devices at least an hour before bedtime
  • Exercise regularly to release feel-good endorphins
  • Don’t overeat at night
  • Stop consuming caffeine at night
  • Meditate before going to bed
  • Check your medications to see if they’re a problem
  • Try herbal supplements to help induce a restful sleep

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