Insomnia can be described as regular difficulty in getting to sleep, remaining asleep or getting enough sleep despite making an effort to do so.
According to research, one in three adults will have had some sort of problem with insomnia within the past 12 months. Most individuals who experience insomnia will do so over a short period of time, and then their usual sleeping patterns will return, however for some individuals insomnia can become a chronic condition which seriously affects their health and wellbeing. It is important to note that there are many different types of insomnia. For some, getting to sleep is the problem, whereas others experience no difficulty in falling asleep but tend to wake up soon after and cannot get back to sleep.
Common causes of insomnia
Sleeping difficulties are very often caused by stress, anxiety and worry, however other causes can include drinking too much caffeine, irregular working patterns, age, depression, noisy neighbours, pain from physical illness and in some women, menopausal changes.
If you feel like your insomnia has become a pattern or is interfering with your daily life, it's important to get help:
Treatment for insomnia
Most people reach for a sleeping aid - whether that's over-the-counter medication or a prescription - when they are having trouble sleeping. However, non-medical treatments can be helpful. Cognitive and behavioural treatments for insomnia include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: The aim here is to change the unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to the insomnia. This is a highly effective treatment and has long-term results in improving sleep quality.
- Relaxation Training: This teaches the individual to relax and tense muscles throughout the body. It helps to calm the body and induce sleep.
- Stimulus Control: The aim here is to build an association between the bedroom and sleep. This involves limiting the activities allowed in the bedroom with a schedule of wake and sleep times. Over time this can break the unhealthy association between wakefulness and the bedroom.