Insomnia is a physical, psychological or emotional disorder that causes difficulty with either falling asleep, or staying asleep for the required amount of time. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person depending on many factors including the quality of the sleep. For example, one factor concerning the quality of the sleep is the proportion of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase.

Poor sleep has long-term effects including heart disease diabetes, dementia and obesity, reduced immunity and even cancer. The neuropsychological effects of acute sleep deprivation have been consistently shown to be deleterious. 

These effects include the following:

  • A decreased reaction time,
  • An increase of repetitive and negative thoughts,
  • Impaired sense of humour,
  • Increased risk taking,
  • Impaired moral judgement,
  • Increased negativity with with enhanced memory for adverse events, and
  • Increased distractibility

Many women experiencing symptoms of the menopause or perimenopause also start to suffer from insomnia.

In men, increased urgency - especially when trying to sleep at night is a symptom of an enlarged prostate.