What Causes Insomnia, What Are The Symptoms Of Tom Bradby’s Condition, Are There Sleep Aids Available And What Is Fatal Familial Insomnia?


INSOMNIA is a common problem, thought to affect around one in every three Brits, with older people particularly prone to it.

Here is everything you need to know about it, including the best tips to beat insomnia and get a good night’s kip.

Getty – Contributor Insomnia is a common problem which can make it hard to sleep at night – leading to tiredness, irritability and other problems

What is insomnia? What are the symptoms?

Insomnia is defined by the NHS as “difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning.”

The symptoms of insomnia include difficulty dozing off, lying awake for a long time at night, waking up several times every night and not feeling refreshed when you get up.

In spite of their tiredness, sufferers may also find it hard to nap in the day, and may struggle to concentrate or become more irritable than usual due to their lack of sleep.

For some people, occasional bouts of insomnia will come and go, while others could have it for months or even years at a time.

In May 2018 it emerged that ITV anchorman Tom Bradby had been suffering from a chronic bout of insomnia, forcing him to miss his flagship news show.

A source close to the newsman told The Mail on Sunday: “Tom has been off dealing with insomnia. It looks like he will be off for a further three weeks as it would be silly for him to return before he has recovered properly.

“He is resting and having some time to recuperate but is looking forward to getting back to work as soon as he is ready.”

What causes insomnia?

It is not always clear what causes insomnia, but stress and anxiety are common triggers.

A poor sleep environment, like an uncomfortable bed or a noisy bedroom, could also be a cause.

Otherwise, lifestyle factors like jet lag, shift work or boozing before bed can stop you getting a good night’s sleep.

And, for others, physical and mental health conditions are behind their lack of sleep.

Alamy Looking at your phone right before going to bed can make it hard to switch off and get a good night’s sleep

What sleep aids are there to beat insomnia?

The NHS advises that insomniacs could try the following to help get a good night’s sleep:

Set regular times for going to bed and waking up Relax before bed time – try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music Use thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed Don’t watch TV or use phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed Avoid napping during the day Write a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before going to bed to help you forget about them until the morning

Persistent sufferers may find that over-the-counter sleeping pills can help, but these aren’t without their drawbacks.

Sometimes, these pills can cause unpleasant side effects, and using them fails to address the issues – it just deals with the symptoms.

You should see your GP if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep and it’s affecting your daily life.

They may suggest keeping a sleep diary and will check your medical history for a cause if the above measures don’t help to ease your insomnia.

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