Would you like to sleep better?

Everyone has difficulty sleeping at some time or another. If you’re going through a stressful period at work, or moving house, doing exams, starting a new job, ending a relationship…it’s possible that you’ll have trouble sleeping. These periods of stress usually become easier over time and our sleep improves.

On the other hand, if you’re regularly finding yourself struggling with sleep (more than 3 times per week and for more than three months) it’s possible that you have a sleep disorder known as chronic insomnia. And you’re not alone – around 14.8% of adults have symptoms consistent with clinical insomnia.

Insomnia can negatively impact our well being. It can lead to fatigue and irritability – it can affect our thinking, learning and concentration, and it can affect our mood and our stress levels. It’s essential to address insomnia early to prevent its long-term impact on our physical and emotional health.

What are the symptoms of insomnia:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep
  • You feel distressed about your sleep difficulties
  • Your sleep difficulties impact your social life, or your work or study
  • You’re struggling to sleep more than 3 nights per week

How to fall asleep faster – things to try:

  • Have a regular bed time and wake up time
  • If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, practice a breathing exercise or a muscle relaxation exercise
  • Try counting your breathing. Each in and out breath is 1. Count 10 breaths and start again
  • Visualise being in a safe, relaxing place – the beach or a garden. Imagine using your senses and notice what you can see, smell, hear, and touch
  • Break the cycle of tossing and turning in bed. Get up after 15 minutes if you’re having trouble sleeping and go to another room to do a relaxing activity. Then go back to bed when you feel sleepy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is the most effective, evidence-based psychological treatment for insomnia. It is a targeted treatment that involves: learning about sleep hygiene and relearning that bed is for sleep (BEST Bed Equals Sleep Therapy); practicing helpful ways of thinking about sleep and developing skills to manage worries that might be keeping you awake at night; learning relaxation skills; and Sleep Efficiency Training (reducing wakeful time spent in bed with the end goal of improving sleep quality and duration).

At Oak Psychology Space we are certified CBT-I practitioners.

You can learn more about CBT-I in Dr Michael Mosley’s new series, “Australia’s Sleep Revolution”.