Not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep when we want to can create such frustration that the stress is almost unbearable, making the approaching bedtime a torture rather than a welcome time of rest.

“The words I thought while laying awake hour after hour, tossing and turning, fretting and fantasising (about sleep…) muttering and grumbling, beating the pillow, kicking the wall, grinding my teeth, mostly started with “f”. I can’t describe how bad insomnia made me feel without making this web site unsuitable for decent folk!” Julie

Insomnia is categorised in three ways: transient, short-term and chronic. Transient insomnia that only lasts for a few days, and typically occurs in anticipation of something exciting or stressful, is familiar to all of us from time to time.

Even children, who usually sleep well, have periods when they have difficulty falling asleep as a reaction to an approaching birthday or a visit from Santa. But being familiar does not make insomnia any the less annoying, and when it becomes habitual, people often dread going to bed.

Short-term insomnia may last for several weeks, and usually occurs during or after periods of severe stress, while chronic insomnia can last for months or even years.