Sleepless Sheep – Stop Counting Sheep

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep1.

You may still feel tired when you wake up. Insomnia can drain not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life1.



Difficulty falling
asleep at night

Daytime tirednes
or sleepiness

depression or anxiety

Increased errors
or accidents

Waking up
too early


Insomnia causes1



Concerns about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep.


Poor sleep habits:

Including an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for work, eating or watching TV. This also includes using smartphones and other screens just before bed.



Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain anti-depressants and medications for asthma or blood pressure. Over the counter medications may contain caffeine and other stimulants which may disrupt sleep.


Eating too much too late:

Having a light snack before bedtime is OK, but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. 


Coffee, nicotine and alcohol:

Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Drinking them in the late afternoon or evening can keep you from falling asleep at night.


Travel or work schedule:

Your circadian rhythms act as an internal clock, guiding such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and body temperature. Disrupting your body's circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia.

Tips to quiet an active
mind so you can sleep2


Ditch the devices:

Stop using smartphones, laptops and tablets right before bed. Not only does the light from electronic screens interfere with melatonin production but it also heightens anxiety and stress, especially if you’ve just received stressful news via news or social media. Switch off devices one to two hours, or 30 minutes at a minimum before bed.


Schedule worrying time:

Just as you schedule time to see your friends or get a massage, do the same with your worries. Schedule a consistent time every day (about 15 to 30 minutes), at least one to two hours before bed, to write those worries down on paper. In addition to writing down what’s worrying you, create at least one action item you can do to help deal with the issue.


Create a routine:

Modern-day living has created so much stimulation in the day that brains now operate at incredible speed, and if you don’t give them time to rest, they’ll continue going at that speed at bedtime. At least 30 minutes before you go to bed, start your preparations and then do something that will relax you, like listening to music or reading. Ensure that you remain consistent everyday and you’ll train your body to expect sleep after that relaxation period.


Keep a gratitude list:

Now that you are aware of what’s troubling you, replace the void where those negative thoughts once lived with positive ones by starting a gratitude journal. Try spending a few minutes each night listing three to five things you’re grateful for.


Do progressive muscle relaxation:

As you lie in bed, tense and relax all of your muscles one by one, starting with your toes and ending at your head. Not only is this incredibly relaxing but it also forces you to think about the physical parts of your body, directing your attention away from whatever thoughts or stressors you have.

How much sleep medication must I take?

Unfortunately, we do not respond to questions about medical information or your personal medical condition. At Aspen, we care to handle queries in a manner that takes your individual health needs into consideration. We therefore, recommend that you discuss this matter with your pharmacist, nursing sister or doctor, who is able to take your medical history into consideration and provide you with personalised healthcare advice.

How much sleep do I need?

How much sleep you need changes throughout your lifetime.3 Everyone’s sleep is different, even within the same age group. An infant may need up to 17 hours of sleep each day, while an older adult may be alright with 7 hours of sleep a night. There are suggestions based on research on how much sleep you need for optimal health. But the real question is how you feel after a nights sleep.
Here’s what to keep in mind when evaluating your own sleep needs:3

  • Do you feel rested after 7 hours of sleep, or do you need at least 8 or 9?
  • Are you having any daytime drowsiness?
  • Are you reliant on caffeine to get you going throughout the day?
  • Are you reliant on caffeine to get you going throughout the day?
  • If you sleep with someone else, have they noticed you having any sleeping issues?

Is it a good idea to take a nap during the day?

Naps might seem like an obvious solution to sleep problems. While they can help, they’re not always the trick. A nap might assist with better cognition, improved memory and boosted immunity but it shouldn’t be taken for too long or too quickly.4

For most people, a 20 -30 minute nap is the sweet spot for boosting alertness and focus. Waking up just 30 minutes after falling asleep for a nap ensures you’re in the early stages of the sleep cycle and won’t feel groggy upon waking. Longer naps may interfere with the quality of your night-time sleep.4

Does age affect insomnia?

Insomnia becomes more prevalent in persons over the age of 60. Older people may be less likely to sleep soundly because of bodily changes related to aging and because they may have medical conditions or take medications that disturb sleep.5

Is insomnia genetic?

If insomnia affects you, there is a good possibility that members of your extended family will have experienced it as well. Scientists have identified hundreds of genetic locations that may have a small effect on a person’s overall risk of developing insomnia. Environmental factors can further determine how these genes are expressed, linking life events to insomnia before and after we are born.6

At what age can you start taking medication to help with sleeping?

Sleep aids, including natural ones like melatonin, can cause side effects. You may feel confused or sleepy during the day.7 Please consult a healthcare professional if you think you need to start taking sleep aids.

Speak to your pharmacist about an over the counter sleep aid from Aspen.


  1. Insomnia. MayoClinic. 15 October 2016. Available online at: 08 April 2020.
  2. How to quiet a racing mind and fall asleep, tonight. K Asp. 04 February 2019. Everyday Health. Available online at: Accessed 08 April 2021.
  3. Healthline. Roland J. Reviewed by Dasgupta R. How You Should Calculate When You Should Go To Sleep. [updated 2020 July 21; cited 2021 September 15]. Available from:
  4. Healthline. Risher B. Reviewed by Dasgupta R. How You Should Calculate When You Should Go To Sleep. [updated 2020 October 29; cited 2021 September 15]. Available from:
  5. Cleveland Clinic. Insomnia. [updated 2020 October 14; cited 2021 September 15]. Available from
  6. Medical News Today. Hewings-Martin Y. Reviewed by Collier J. Is Insomnia Genetic? [updated 2019 March 7; cited 2021 September 15]. Available from
  7. Cleveland Clinic. Sleeping Pills. [updated 2021 April 27; cited 2021 September 15]. Available from

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