It’s 3am in the morning yet you’re tossing and turning for the last 4 hours. You have a meeting in the morning, you need to get the kids ready for school tomorrow, try to cram some more info before the exam, hit the gym and the list goes on. Argh! Can’t sleep. Feeling exhausted but can’t sleep…so annoying… feel like your going crazy even! Yet the more you try, the more worked up you get…let’s face it… We’ve all experienced the frustration of not being able to sleep once in a while…yet for some people, not being able to sleep most nights can become a problematic reality of their everyday lives.
So specifically what counts as insomnia or a bad night’s sleep?
Insomnia is categorised by a difficulty falling asleep, or waking up early and not being able to fall asleep, or having restless sleep. Insomnia can be caused by several issues. Some of which include;
• Emotional arousal; Such as feeling anxious or worried,
• Environment; Noise, discomfort, changes in sleep patterns
• Medical conditions: Pain, breathing, stomach, issues, arthritis and other health issues
Why do I need to sleep?
Sleep is an essential part of us- just like the need to eat, breathe and procreate. Insomnia can be chronic (long lasting for several months, years) or transient (which lasts for only a few nights and links to a stressful event e/g exams, health issues etc.)
• REM SLEEP is necessary for the filtering of emotional arousal that we experience throughout the day. Often this is repressed emotional arousal such as getting angry at someone yet not being able to express it. As a result this emotional arousal is expressed during dreaming.
• Extreme sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations and loss of memory. Functions necessary for the day to day living.
• Not sleeping properly can be a very distressing experience and can result in issues such as depression and make issues such as anxiety worse.
• We experience something called ‘slow wave sleep’ during sleep, which is essential for the rejuvenation of certain bodily functions, such as immune system.
So how do I have a good night’s sleep?
- • Stop ‘trying’ to sleep. When we ‘try’ to do something we create tension. That’s why when we ‘try’ to go to sleep this just leads to more tossing and turning creating more tension and frustration and as a result makes sleep even less likely to happen.
• One of the keys to insomnia is to learn to ‘let go’ and ‘relax’. Self-hypnosis can do wonders to help induce natural sleep. A really good technique to try, is to imagine pleasant and relaxing images whilst in bed about to sleep. E.g. beach, a favourite holiday, working to a relaxing activity such as yoga or playing the piano. Ensure that the images are positive and are relaxing as worrying images will only alert the brain and will create tension- making sleep difficult. If you find it difficult to concentrate on positive images and need help relaxing, listening to a self-hypnosis recording for sleep can help.
• Ensure good sleep hygiene; This means ensuring that your environment is a comfortable place prepared only for restful sleep. This means no TV’s in the bedroom, ensuring the temperature is just right, no electronic devices such as your iPad or your mobile. In addition keeping the room nice and dark can help to trigger melatonin levels which is responsible for sleep inducing. No distractions!
• Ensure that you’re getting enough sleep! Sticking to a routine and going to bed at the same time every night can help. Winding down before bed with a nice bedtime ritual can help. A relaxing bath, followed by some relaxing music and relaxation ‘me’ time can do wonders. Especially if your work or life can be stressful.
- If the insomnia is being caused by stress related issues- where possible resolving the issues behind the stress or attempting to feel better about a situation you feel you have no control over can help. Consider investing in some therapy session to help you to resolve and work through any issues that may be contributing to the stress.
Try some of the tips above. Feel free to get in touch if you would like some sessions to help with your sleep and stress related issues!