Insomnia is the disturbance of a normal sleep pattern, and it’s estimated that approximately one in four people will suffer from the condition at some point in their life. Sleep is a state of consciousnesses, which gives an individual time to rest and build up their strength. Insomnia can leave people feeling drained and exhausted, resulting in poor performance at work, lack of concentration and irritability.
Some people need more sleep than other people, and age often influences the amount of time an individual spends sleeping. Generally, a baby needs about 16 to 17 hours of sleep a day, an older child needs about 9 to 10 hours, and most adults need approximately 7 to 9 hours each day. However, this varies from person to person, their lifestyle, diet and environment. Anyone can suffer from insomnia, however sleeping problems are very common among menopausal women, the elderly, smokers, alcoholics and the ill.
Insomnia can last for days, weeks or even years and can be extremely distressing, exhausting, depressing and frustrating. If the condition lasts 2 to 3 days it’s often referred to as transient insomnia, if it lasts for more than a few days but less than 3 weeks it’s usually referred to as short-term insomnia, and if it lasts for more than 3 weeks it’s referred to as chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia can lead to other health conditions such as depression and the misuse of drugs or alcohol.
Symptoms of insomnia
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Waking repeatedly during the night
- Waking early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep
- Not feeling refreshed after sleep
- Difficulty in concentrating
Causes of insomnia
There are a number of reasons individuals may suffer from insomnia, including:
- Disruptions within the sleeping environment, such as noise, light, snoring or a partner’s movement.
- Physical conditions causing pain, discomfort or movement, including arthritis, hot flushes, restless leg syndrome and headaches.
- Loss or worry, such as bereavement, work worries, anxiety about not being able to sleep and relationship problems.
- Mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
- Alcohol, caffeine, antidepressants and other medicines.
- A big change such as a house move, new job or starting university.
Tips for self-help
- Limit alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, especially late in the day.
- Exercise regularly, but don’t overdo it before bedtime. Meditation and yoga can be relaxing, preparing your body for sleep.
- Don’t take naps during the day.
- Don’t eat too much late in the evening, but don’t go to bed hungry either.
- Establish a routine of going to bed at a certain time and getting up at a certain time each day.
- Write down any worries to clear them from your mind.
- Have a warm bath before bedtime.
- Have a milky drink or listen to soothing music to create a relaxed mood.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable, and your room isn’t too hot or too cold.
- If you can’t sleep, do something relaxing such as reading until you feel sleepy.
Treatment for insomnia
Hypnosis is often an effective treatment for those suffering from insomnia. Hypnotherapy can help an individual to relax, both mentally and physically, using varying relaxation techniques. Hypnotherapy can also help an individual to understand some of the causes of insomnia and sleeping problems.
Many people suffering from insomnia believe they are not going to be able to sleep, which often means they don’t. Hypnotherapy can help to re-educate an individuals mind to expect a good night’s sleep.
Insomnia can be addressed through counselling as well as hypnotherapy. It is important to discuss fully how you are leading your life and how you wind down before bed.