Perhaps you feel tired, even after a very long sleep? Being unable to sleep 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.
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).
Becoming preoccupied with your amount and quality of sleep
A decline in your reasoning and problem-solving skills
Stress and burnout
Increased negative thinking
Intensified anxiety, depression and other mental health symptoms
A build-up of issues in work, family and social life
Feeling physically ill more often
It’s common for patients to spot symptoms of sleep disturbance. Much of the time, people come to our clinic purely because of poor sleep. 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.
Periods of heightened stress
A difficult work project or feeling unsupported in your job
Disputes with other people or bullying
Poor sleep hygiene (e.g. lack of winding-down time, high sugar or caffeine consumption, unsuitable sleeping space)
Alcohol or recreational drug use
Disorders such as night terrors and sleep apnoea
Work shift patterns
Flashbacks or nightmares, including trauma and PTSD
Chronic pain and other medical conditions
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.
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.
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.
GET IN TOUCH
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.
Are you impacted by past traumas? Our clinical directors can help you think about the right treatments options to help you achieve your goals.
Are you spending too much time worrying and overthinking? You’ve come to the right place. We are leading anxiety specialists.
Do you suffer from long term chronic pain? Our therapists specialise in a range of therapy models proven to help manage the symptoms of Chronic pain.
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