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The Surrey Hypnotherapy Clinic
The Surrey Hypnotherapy Clinic  

Insomnia - Best Help, Advice, Therapy & Treatment...

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning.


It's a common problem thought to regularly affect around one in every three people in the UK, and is particularly common in elderly people. If you have insomnia, you may:

  • find it difficult to fall asleep
  • lie awake for long periods at night
  • wake up several times during the night
  • wake up early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep
  • not feel refreshed when you get up
  • find it hard to nap during the day, despite feeling tired
  • feel tired and irritable during the day and have difficulty concentrating

Occasional episodes of insomnia may come and go without causing any serious problems, but for some people it can last for months or even years at a time.

 

Persistent insomnia can have a significant impact on your quality of life. It can limit what you're able to do during the day, affect your mood, and lead to relationship problems with friends, family and colleagues.

How much sleep do I need?

There are no official guidelines about how much sleep you should get each night because everyone is different.


On average, a "normal" amount of sleep for an adult is considered to be around seven to nine hours a night. Children and babies may sleep for much longer than this, whereas older adults may sleep less.

 

What's important is whether you feel you get enough sleep, and whether your sleep is good quality.
You're probably not getting enough good-quality sleep if you constantly feel tired throughout the day and it's affecting your everyday life.

What causes insomnia?

Insomnia can be triggered by a number of possible factors, including worry and stress, underlying health conditions, and alcohol or drug use. Sometimes it's not possible to identify a clear cause.

 

It's not always clear what triggers insomnia, but it's often associated with:

  • stress and anxiety
  • a poor sleeping environment – such as an uncomfortable bed, or a bedroom that's too light, noisy, hot or cold
  • lifestyle factors – such as jet lag, shift work, or drinking alcohol or caffeine before going to bed
  • mental health conditions – such as depression and schizophrenia
  • physical health conditions – such as heart problems, other sleep disorders and long-term pain
  • certain medicines – such as some antidepressants, epilepsy medicines and steroid medication

Stress and anxiety can cause insomnia

Some people develop insomnia after a stressful event, such as a bereavement, problems at work, or financial difficulties.


The problem can continue long after the event has passed because they start to associate going to bed with being awake. This develops into an anxiety about sleep itself.


Having more general worries – for example, about work, family or health – are also likely to keep you awake at night.


These can cause your mind to start racing while you lie in bed, which can be made worse by also worrying about not being able to sleep.

A poor sleeping routine and environment can cause insomnia

You may struggle to get a good night's sleep if you go to bed at inconsistent times, nap during the day, or don't "wind down" before going to bed.


A poor sleeping environment can also contribute to insomnia – for instance, an uncomfortable bed or a bedroom that's too bright, noisy, hot or cold.

Lifestyle factors can cause insomnia

Drinking alcohol before going to bed and taking certain recreational drugs can affect your sleep, as can stimulants such as nicotine (found in cigarettes) and caffeine (found in tea, coffee and energy drinks). These should be avoided in the evenings.


Changes to your sleeping patterns can also contribute to insomnia – for example, because of shift work or changing time zones after a long-haul flight (jet lag).

Mental Health can cause insomnia

Underlying mental health problems can often affect a person's sleeping patterns, including:

  • mood disorders – such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • anxiety disorders – such as generalised anxiety, panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • psychotic disorders – such as schizophrenia

Physical health conditions can cause insomnia

Insomnia can also be caused by underlying physical conditions, including:

  • heart conditions – such as angina or heart failure
  • respiratory conditions – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma
  • neurological conditions – such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease
  • hormonal problems – such as an overactive thyroid
  • joint or muscle problems – such as arthritis
  • problems with the genital or urinary organs – such as urinary incontinence or an enlarged prostate
  • sleep disorders – such as snoring and sleep apnoea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, night terrors and sleepwalking
  • long-term pain
  • In women, childbirth can sometimes lead to insomnia.

Medication can cause insomnia

Some prescriptions or over-the-counter medications can cause insomnia as a side effect.
These include:

  • certain antidepressants
  • epilepsy medicines
  • medicines for high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers
  • steroid medication
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • stimulant medicines used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy
  • some medicines used to treat asthma, such as salbutamol, salmeterol and theophylline

Check the leaflet that comes with any medication you're taking to see if insomnia or sleeping difficulties are listed as a possible side effect.

How to help your insomnia

There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good night's sleep if you have insomnia.
These include:

  • setting regular times for going to bed and waking up
  • relaxing before bed time – try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
  • using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
  • avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
  • not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed 
  • not napping during the day
  • writing a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before going to bed to help youforget about them until the morning
  • Some people find over-the-counter sleeping tablets helpful, but they don't address the underlying problem and can have troublesome side effects.

When to seek help for your insomnia

You probably need help for your insomnia if you're finding it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep (waking up in the middle of the night), or you wake feeling tired, and you easily getting exhausted during the day - finding yourself just 'dropping off' for a quick nap during the daytime.

 

Occasional episodes of insomnia may come and go without causing any serious problems, but for some people it can last for months or even years at a time.

 

Persistent insomnia can have a significant impact on your quality of life. It can limit what you're able to do during the day, affect your mood, and lead to relationship problems with friends, family and colleagues.

 

If your insomnia is affecting your daily life – particularly if it has been a problem for a month or more and the above measures have not helped and you are not on any medication that may be contributing to your insomnia it may be that your insomnia is cause by an underlying anxiety disorder.

Treatments for insomnia

Prescription sleeping tablets don't treat the cause of your insomnia and are associated with a number of side effects and should be used for only a few days or weeks at a time. They can also become less effective over time and are usually only ever considered as a last resort by your GP. 

Help for insomnia and sleep problems using Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy & Counselling

Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can help in cases where your insomnia is caused by an underlying anxiety disorder, that may be causimg your sleep problems.

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For professional, caring and confidential help, advice, therapy or treatment for Insomnia, or similar, just contact Peter, preferably by e-mail, to arrange an appointment for your free initial consultation.

Articles about Insomnia and sleep problems

Select here for some additional background Articles about Insomnia.

Interesting and informative Sleep video (10min 34sec)

Find out more about the anxiety disorders

Insomnia may be a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder.  Six major anxiety disorders have been formally identified, each with their own distinct symptom profile. You can read more about the other anxiety disorders here:

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