How to Combat Insomnia and Get Some Sleep

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder

People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep which often results in them not feeling refreshed when they wake up.

Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute insomnia is common and often is brought on by situations such as stress at work, family pressures, or a traumatic event and can last for days or weeks.

Chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem. Certain medical conditions, medicines, sleep disorders, and substances can cause secondary insomnia.  Lifestyle changes, including better sleep habits, often help relieve acute insomnia. For chronic insomnia, your doctor may recommend medicines or cognitive-behavioral therapy.

So what can we do about it? How to combat insomnia?

We have all experienced those occasional sleepless nights filled with tossing and turning, racing thoughts and frustration. For most of us, this remains an infrequent annoyance, but for up to 33% of the adult Australian population, this becomes a regular difficulty known as Insomnia. Unfortunately, those with depression are even more likely to experience insomnia, with around 50% suffering with the sleep disorder. Psychological, behavioural and pharmacological therapies can be effective depending on your individual situation and your doctor’s recommendations. Stimulus Control Therapy is gaining recognition as one of the most effective behavioural therapies, and is without the side effects of some of the medications often used to treat insomnia. The therapy involves taking steps to ensure that you learn to associate bed with sleeping, rather than being awake. PSYBLOG has summarised the six simple steps of Stimulus Control Therapy as follows:

1.)  Lie down to go to sleep only when you are sleepy.

2.)  Do not use your bed for anything except sleep; that is, do not read, watch television, eat, or worry in bed. Sexual activity is the only exception to this rule. On such occasions, the instructions are to be followed afterwards, when you intend to go to sleep.

3.)  If you find yourself unable to fall asleep, get up and go into another room. Stay up as long as you wish and then return to the bedroom to sleep. Although we do not want you to watch the clock, we want you to get out of bed if you do not fall asleep immediately. Remember the goal is to associate your bed with falling asleep quickly! If you are in bed more than about 10 minutes without falling asleep and have not gotten up, you are not following this instruction.

4.)  If you still cannot fall asleep, repeat step 3. Do this as often as is necessary throughout the night.

5.)  Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning irrespective of how much sleep you got during the night. This will help your body acquire a consistent sleep rhythm.

6.)  Do not nap during the day.

Sounds too good to be true? Give it a shot! It’s non-invasive, easy to follow, and highly effective according to research.

If you are having difficulty sleeping and need some additional support, speak to your GP or give us a call. Our team of highly skilled psychologists at The Psych Professionals are here to help.

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