Do you have difficulty getting to sleep, or sometimes wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep?
Perhaps you feel tired, even after a very long sleep? Trouble sleeping properly can be frustrating and debilitating. It’s also very common. Sleep disturbances affect everyone at some point and they are usually a short-term problem. But if your difficulty sleeping becomes frequent or lasts for more than a few weeks, you might have a sleep disorder. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to impact your well-being and how you function during the day. Here we explain how to get help.
What is sleep disturbance?
Put simply, sleep disturbance is when you are having trouble sleeping. It’s a term that describes various difficulties in falling asleep or staying asleep. It also includes oversleeping, which is typical in some forms of depression. Although it seems contradictory, oversleeping often makes people feel tired once they do wake up. Sleep problems are a central feature of anxiety or stress. Sometimes sleep disturbance does not have a mental health cause. These include physical health problems or environmental factors like noise or an uncomfortable bed. Worrying can interfere with normal sleeping habits, making it difficult for your mind and body to ‘switch off’ for essential rest. Anxiety leads to an increase in stress hormones. In turn, it prevents you from experiencing deeper stages of sleep. There is also a knock-on effect. If you experience sleep disturbances for any reason, you might worry about those, too. This ongoing cycle is something you can undo with effective psychological therapy (we’ll explain more about that later).
Symptoms of sleep disturbance
Whether sleep disturbance is a mental health symptom or a separate issue, its potential negative effects are wide-ranging.
The signs to look for include:
Becoming preoccupied with your amount and quality of sleep
Stress and burnout
Increased negative thinking
Intensified anxiety, depression and other mental health symptoms
A decline in your reasoning and problem-solving skills
A build-up of issues in work, family and social life
Feeling physically ill more often
Diagnosing sleep disturbance
It’s common for patients to spot symptoms of sleep disturbance. Much of the time, people come to our clinic purely because of trouble sleeping. Sometimes people don’t recognise their sleep difficulties directly and seek treatment for issues like anxiety and depression. They often later report sleep disturbances in the questionnaires we ask them to complete. Usually, we get a more detailed understanding of your sleeping patterns using self-reporting techniques like sleep tracking diaries and observational instruments. These help us assess the quality and amount of your sleep across a few weeks. You may face many different problems that disturb your sleep. Tracking actual sleep patterns is a valuable starting point for deciding on the treatment of insomnia.
We also consider possible triggers such as:
Periods of heightened stress
Disorders such as night terrors and sleep apnoea
A difficult work project or feeling unsupported in your job
Work shift patterns
Disputes with other people or bullying
Flashbacks or nightmares, including trauma and PTSD
Poor sleep hygiene (e.g. lack of winding-down time, high sugar or caffeine consumption, unsuitable sleeping space)
Chronic pain and other medical conditions
Alcohol or recreational drug use
Mental health issues with strong worry components (e.g. depression, social anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder).
Sleep disorders with mainly physical symptoms – like sleep apnoea, sleep paralysis, restless legs syndrome (RLS) and night terrors – are best diagnosed at a sleep clinic. This involves an overnight stay where specialists use instruments to check your brain activity. This isn’t a service we provide at Kove so please contact a GP to find out more about this.
Treatments for trouble sleeping
We use a range of methods to help people experiencing poor sleep
During the first stage, we usually ask you to keep a sleep diary to track your sleep-wake cycles. We’ll also ask about your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes around sleep. Following this, we can make recommendations for altering any dysfunctional sleep behaviours and teach you skills to develop better sleep. When mental health disorders affect your sleep, we help you take appropriate steps as part of a detailed care plan. Typically we create this in collaboration with your doctor.
We offer an array of packages to meet the needs of each person. The most effective psychological options to treat insomnia use one or more of the following:
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy (EMDR).
It usually takes four to eight therapy sessions to treat chronic insomnia and sleep disturbances caused by psychological issues. Call 0207 856 0464 today and remember say goodbye to trouble sleeping.
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Book a Consultation
You deserve a good night’s sleep. At Kove, we specialise in helping people get exactly that. During your appointment, you can discuss the possible underlying causes of your sleep disturbances with one of our experts. We’ll then support you in choosing a treatment tailored precisely to your needs. Book a consultation today and get back to enjoying healthy and restful sleep every night.
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If anxiety is taking up too much of your time and energy, you’re in the right place. Our team of anxiety specialists can help you overcome the overwhelming feelings of worry and overthinking. With our evidence-based therapies and compassionate support, we can help you learn how to manage your anxiety and improve your quality of life.
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