Insomnia is a very common complaint. It refers to sleeping problems such as difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early, or non-refreshing sleep, that occurs most nights per week, for a month or more. Insomnia often occurs as a symptom of another disorder (e.g., anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) but also occurs as a syndrome in its own right.
Psychological treatments for Insomnia are highly effective and have many advantages over using medications.
Signs and symptoms of insomnia
Most people with insomnia report feeling day-time effects of lack of sleep including:
- Feeling tired (physically exhausted) during the day
- Feeling sleepy (like you could doze off, or fall asleep) during the day
- Difficulty paying attention or concentrating
- More likely to have accidents or make mistakes
- Muscle tension, headaches, stomach aches
- More irritable or easily upset
The effects of insomnia
Many people also worry about their inability to sleep, which makes it even harder to fall asleep. Insomnia can affect people’s ability to handle stress, leaving them feeling overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated, angry, anxious and/or depressed. Not surprisingly, it can take a significant toll on an individual’s performance at work or study and often impacts on their relationships with others.
Treatment for sleep problems
Successful treatment of sleeping problems involves changing factors that cause and maintain the sleeping problem. Treatment may include the following strategies:
- Reducing arousal and relaxation strategies
- Reducing stress
- Treatment for any concurrent problems such as anxiety or depression
- Changing unhelpful bed-time routines
- Reducing caffeine and alcohol
- Monitoring and changing unhelpful beliefs and thoughts about sleep. For example, the belief that “I won’t cope tomorrow if I don’t get 8 hours of sleep” is likely to increase arousal levels and make it more difficult to sleep.
- Using ‘bright light therapy’ to shift circadian rhythms
- ‘Sleep restriction therapy’ for sleep patterns that include multiple awakenings
If you would like to find out more about our treatment for Insomnia and Sleeping Problems, or to book an appointment with one of our clinical psychologists who provides treatment for these conditions, please email or call the clinic on 02 9438 2511.