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Treatment of Insomnia
Losing sleep about sleep?

We all know that we need sleep, but for one reason or another many of us go lacking. The amount of sleep people need varies, but most adults require between seven and eight hours a night.   If you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you may not be getting enough sleep.   Approximately 40% of adults experience trouble with sleeping in any given year.   For some the insomnia is short-lasting, lasting from just a few nights to a few weeks, and is due to stress, medications (such as those used for colds and allergies, high blood pressure, pain or depression), jetlag and other difficulties.   When it lasts for more than four weeks, it is termed chronic insomnia.   This type of insomnia may result from a combination of mental, physical or lifestyle factors.

Inadequate levels of sleep may affect a person's judgement, reaction time, and emotional well-being.   However worrying about getting insufficient sleep often worsens it as the associated anxiety causes the release of hormones which increases muscle tension and mental alertness.   These changes make it even more difficult to fall asleep.   Want to know how to stop worrying about sleep?   We'll get to that soon.   First a few other things you need to know.

Sleeping pills, which may be helpful for short-term insomnia, are not advised for chronic insomnia as their effectiveness decreases after several weeks of nightly use and long term use may interfere with good sleep.   The most effective treatment for insomnia not due to physical health problems (such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea) is called cognitive behaviour therapy, which involves learning new ways of thinking and behaving when it comes to sleep.

Learning to “clean up” our sleep techniques is termed sleep hygiene.   One of the important aspects of sleep hygiene involves developing regular sleep habits.  

Try to follow a pre-planned bed routine every night, say an hour before you go to bed.   Do something relaxing in this time, such as having a hot bath or reading.

  Also endeavour to make your bedtime environment conducive to sleep by making sure it is dark, quiet and comfortable.

Try getting out of bed at the same time each day, even if you only fell asleep a few hours earlier.

Avoid that desire to have a nap during the day if you slept poorly the night before as it will only make it more difficult to sleep the next night.  

Don't use your bed for anything other than sleep, such as reading, watching TV or chatting (an exception to this is sexual activity).   You need to learn to associate your bed with sleep.   If you are having difficulty falling asleep at night do not lie in bed trying to sleep for over 20 minutes.   Instead hop out of bed and do something relaxing or mundane until you feel tired. Repeat this procedure until you fall asleep.

The food and drink you consume can also affect your sleep. Try to avoid all stimulants, including coffee and caffeinated tea, for five hours before going to sleep and avoid heavy meals late at night.

Finally, learn strategies for controlling your worry, including relaxation techniques and challenging unhelpful thoughts about sleep.  

Improving your sleep can have tremendous effects on your life.   Good sleep improves your ability to concentrate, take in, and effectively respond to what is happening around you.   The techniques described above will not provide an immediate benefit, but will have lasting effects after a couple of months if adopted as a lifestyle change (just like healthy eating and avoiding those delicious chocolate treats!)   If you would like assistance to improve your sleep, please do not hesitate to contact me on 1800 768 411.