Can't get to sleep when you hit the pillow? Wide-awake in the middle of the night and all shagged out by daybreak? Insomnia affects one in 20 young people in the UK. Here's what could be depriving you of that much needed shut eye.

Boy lying awake in his bed

Still not nodding off?

It’s normal to have trouble nodding off occasionally. But insomnia can make you feel really rough. Work out what the problem might be, how to fix it and get a good night’s kip.

Your mattress

An uncomfy mattress may be to blame for keeping you up at night. Aim to strike a balance between comfort and support. Your spine should be level when lying on your back, without being too hard on your shoulders or hips. If it’s all a bit soggy, try boosting support by slipping a board underneath the mattress.

Lack of exercise

Not exercising can leave you feeling restless and twitchy. Working out on a regular basis will help you burn up that excess energy, but don’t do it last thing at night. Sleep won’t come quick unless you give yourself time to wind down first.


Being unwell can cause sleep loss, especially if you’re in pain or suffering from respiratory disorders. If it’s a long-term problem, or it’s really causing you grief, your GP may be able to help.


Sex certainly helps some people drop off, like a stone in the case of some men, but it can have the opposite effect on many others. If you’re enjoying regular sheet action last thing at night, but it’s leaving you awake afterwards, then try rescheduling things and see if it makes a difference. It may seem like a sacrifice, but consider the insomniacs who aren’t getting any at all.

Anxiety & stress

Both are common sleep obstacles, as personal problems can often seem worse last thing at night. Talking things through with someone you trust can get things in perspective, or ask your GP to recommend an appropriate course of counseling.


Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine (in tobacco), stimulants and some antidepressants can screw up your sleep patterns. Cutting down or quitting should hasten your arrival in the Land of Nod, but always seek the advice of your doctor if you’re taking prescribed medication and you suspect it’s keeping you awake.

Feeding your face

Eating last thing at night will only crank up your digestive system at a time when your body wants to slow down and recharge. Eating earlier might earn you more zeds, while avoiding the risk of heartburn and indigestion.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.




Updated on 29-Sep-2015