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Sleep. The final frontier.

Like many things we take for granted in life you don’t miss it until it is gone. And like many things we take for granted, once it is gone it is all you think about. All too soon you dread going to sleep. The nights have never seemed so long and the days seem endless both for you and those close to you who have to listen to you talking about your insomnia. While you could fall asleep at work in a heartbeat, it becomes the last thing your brain will let you do at night.

The reasons why people lose the ability to sleep are many and varied. The statement we hear most commonly is that nothing has changed. In reality insomnia usually results from an accumulation of reasons although a crisis can certainly precipitate insomnia.

The solutions are equally many and varied. A short course of sleeping pills does help some people but if continued for too long they wear off and become addictive.  There are a variety of natural supplements, some available only on prescription and some not, that may help in the short to medium turn.

Sleep hygiene is a detailed analysis of all the things you do before bed that affect your sleep. Blue light suppresses Melatonin production. Too much adrenaline before bed such as exercise, or the latest 11pm instalment of your favourite series can make it hard to switch off. There are professionals who can help.

Sleep medicine is a specialty whereby a GP refers you to a doctor experienced in sleep medicine who takes a detailed history and works out a sleep diagnosis. Sometimes the sleep specialist needs to admit you to hospital for a sleep test whereby you are wired up and analysed while you are sleep. There is also a home version of this test which can be referred by a GP.