Insomnia

Do you?

  • find it difficult to fall asleep
  • wake up during the night
  • wake up early in the morning
  • feel irritable and tired all the time
  • find it difficult to function during the day

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you have had enough opportunity to sleep.

It is difficult to define what normal sleep is because everyone is different. Your age, lifestyle, environment and diet all play a part in influencing the amount of sleep you need.

The relationship between sleep and mental health

Sleep problems are the most common cause of poor mental health.

Sleep problems have a direct negative impact on quality of life, and can increase the risk of developing further psychological problems such as anxiety or depression.  Up to 80% of patients with major depression report sleep disturbances.  And research shows that poor sleep can make existing problems worse, can maintain mental health issues longer and also act as a barrier to successful treatment.  Furthermore, insomnia can increase the risk of developing of a variety of other chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, chronic pain disorders, obesity and diabetes.

What causes insomnia?

There are a number of causes of sleep problems:

  • Ageing – as people age they tend to need less sleep
  • Medical reasons e.g. pain or medication can affect sleep
  • Stress, anxiety and worry
  • Depression and low mood
  • Environmental factors such as temperature, noise or light can interfere with sleep
  • Shift work can disrupt sleep
How common is it?

Most people experience sleeping problems at some point in their life. Persistent insomnia (getting to sleep and/or staying asleep) affects approximately 10% of people. Every day, 38% of adults in the UK are estimated to be suffering from at least one insomnia symptom. It tends to be more common in women and more likely to occur in older age.

What can I do about it?

If you feel that you are experiencing problems with your sleep, iCope can offer you a range of effective evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy treatments including:

  • Sleep group – where you can learn strategies for overcoming sleep difficulties
  • Guided self-help – where a psychological wellbeing practitioner will guide you through a self-help book on insomnia
  • Sleepio – an online CBT programme
  • Individual CBT therapy sessions

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may include working through educational material so you can understanding insomnia and sleep problems, make adjustments to ‘sleep hygiene’ and use diaries to monitor sleep and record improvements so you can see evidence of the change happening for yourself.

If you would like help, request an appointment here. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to your GP.

How can I help myself?

There are a number of things you can do at home to help you sleep. This is often referred to as good sleep hygiene, and includes:

  • establishing fixed times for going to bed and waking up (avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep)
  • trying to relax before going to bed
  • maintaining a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright)
  • avoiding napping during the day
  • avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol late at night
  • avoiding exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise in the middle of the day is beneficial)
  • avoiding eating a heavy meal late at night
  • avoiding watching or checking the clock throughout the night
  • using the bedroom mainly for sleep and sex if possible

 

The ‘good thinking’ website is also a very useful resource: Good thinking