What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a disorder of sleep. The meaning of insomnia is sleeplessness, when you can’t fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up during sleep when the conditions are appropriate for sleep.
It can be exhausting and debilitating. Fatigue can interfere with your activities during the day.
Most Australians experience insomnia symptoms in episodes throughout their life. It is reported about one in 10 people experience insomnia at any time. Women and older people are more likely to report it.
Chronic, or long-term insomnia is a risk factor for other ongoing conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Insomnia is the third most common reason why Australians visit their GP.
Symptoms of insomnia
Insomnia symptoms include:
- Trouble getting to sleep
- Waking up during sleep
- Waking too early
- Waking many times during sleep
- Fatigue, poor memory and concentration
- Loss of energy and motivation
- Lowered mood and interest in sex.
Diagnosed androgen deficiencies are treated with testosterone replacement therapy, using a testosterone compound as a skin gel, a testosterone cream or injections. There are known side effects, so any hormone therapy must be done in consultation with a medical doctor.
What causes insomnia?
Short-term insomnia can be induced by stress or a change in routine, for days or weeks. Longer-term insomnia happens for more than three days a week for more than three months.
Insomnia without a specific cause is known as primary insomnia. Secondary insomnia occurs due to an ongoing health condition.
Older people experience insomnia more commonly than younger people. Pregnancy insomnia is common due to hormone changes and discomfort. Women who are going through menopause are also more likely to have episodes of insomnia. Other lifestyle factors that are insomnia causes include:
- Disturbances to your sleeping environment
- An irregular sleep pattern
- Interruptions to sleep such as when you have a new baby
- Insufficient physical activity
- Using blue screens before bed time
- Some prescription medications
- Stimulant drugs such as caffeine, nicotine or illegal drugs.
WHAT CAN WE DO FOR YOU
Talk to your doctor about your insomnia if it is interfering with your day-to-day activities. They may ask you to keep a sleep diary to track your symptoms or refer you to a sleep specialist.
Habit changes can help. This can include:
- Having a regular sleep routine.
- Avoiding stimulants before sleep.
Changing your thinking can also help. People who experience insomnia can feel increased frustration or anxiety, which leads to worse sleep. Cognitive behaviour therapy is a widely used and effective treatment. Medications can also help. Use as prescribed by a doctor because some insomnia medications can have side effects or worsen insomnia symptoms.
WHAT CAN WE DO FOR YOU
Treatments for Insomnia
Melatonin for insomnia
Melatonin is one of the hormones that regulate circadian rhythms – your “body clock” patterns of waking and sleeping – along with cortisol.
For healthy people, melatonin is released in response to dim light, generally about two hours before sleep.
Melatonin supplements are synthetic formulations of the human hormone melatonin. Studies are inconclusive about the impacts of melatonin for insomnia. There are positive studies for some sleep conditions, such as jet lag.
Can you buy melatonin over the counter in Australia?
You can buy melatonin over the counter in Australia in two formulations. If you are 55 years old and older, you can buy capsules for short-term treatment. This form of melatonin is a tablet and only available from a pharmacy.
There is also an over-the-counter homeopathic spray melatonin product. Other forms of melatonin are available, for example to support children living with autism. This requires a prescription from a doctor.
We are a melatonin compounding pharmacy
A melatonin compounding chemist can make a custom formulation of your prescription medication to suit your healthcare needs. Medications available with melatonin at our compounding pharmacy include a rapid release form of the product. This requires a prescription.
Other melatonin compounds include capsules, liquids or slow-release formulations. These are allowable products of compounded melatonin in Australia.