Insomnia is classed as a sleep disorder brought on by an inability to sleep or the inability to remain asleep for a prolonged period. Insomniacs typically complain of being unable to close their eyes for more than a few minutes. Both types of insomnia constitute a sleep disorder.
Insomnia is often caused by fear, stress, anxiety, medications, herbs, caffeine, depression, Bipolar disorder or sometimes for no apparent reason – it can also be linked to a poor quality or cheap bed. An overactive mind or physical pain may also be caused. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it.
Insomnia can be a symptom as well as a cause of general difficulties. Like a fever, it suggests something is amiss but does not indicate the problem. In 80% of insomnia cases seen by GPs, the most common cause is a range of psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.
There are two types of insomnia.
Short-term insomnia is characterised by poor sleep spanning two/three weeks. This can be caused by ongoing stress and medical or psychiatric problems. Alleviating the source will usually return rest to normal. Sleeping pills may help if the problem comes on suddenly for short periods. To avoid habit forming, the maximum recommended use of sleeping pills is for 21 days, and even within that period, they are best taken on a non-consecutive basis.
Chronic insomnia lasting more than a month can be related to underlying medical, behavioural or psychiatric problems such as depression. Taking anti-depressant medication can help improve sleep. Transient insomnia, lasting only a few nights, is usually brought on by stress, excitement, a change in sleeping time, or your environment. Generally, the advice is don’t treat it, but if it’s distressing or affecting your daily life, try aromatherapy, reflexology, massage, or an herbal remedy such as valerian. It is available in pharmacies and health food stores.
Within these broad categories, insomnia usually takes one or more of the following forms:
Difficulty falling asleep – This is usually more common among young people
Sleeping lightly and restlessly, waking often, lying awake in the middle of the night – more common in people over 40. In younger people, it may be associated with depression.
Waking early and being unable to get back to sleep is more common in older people and anyone worrying about something in particular.
Common Symptoms of insomnia:
- Feeling tired during the day
- Frequent headaches, easily irritated or lack of concentration
- Tired and not refreshed on waking
- Sleep better away from home
- Take longer than 30-40 minutes to fall asleep.
- Wake repeatedly during the night.
- We wake far too early and are unable to get back to sleep.
- Only get to sleep with the aid of sleeping pills or alcohol.
Insomnia is a condition that is caused by something else! Sometimes, it won’t be immediately apparent what the causes are in your case, but the following list might give clues:
- States of mind – anxiety, depression, worry, anger, grief, anticipating a challenging event
- Change – moving house/city, starting university, starting a new job
- Environment – noise, discomfort, time zone change, poor quality or cheap bed
- Pain – a common cause of insomnia
- Medical conditions – heart, breathing, stomach, digestive, high blood pressure, arthritis, anorexia.
- Recreational drugs – including nicotine, caffeine, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, cannabis
- Sleeping pills and tranquillisers – can cause sleep disturbance.
- Other prescription drugs – including some contraceptives, diuretics, slimming pills, beta-blockers, stimulants.
Sleep Better with Sleepstation
Sleepstation is a program designed to help people with insomnia and other sleep issues improve their sleep quality. Whether it can help you depends on the specific nature of your problems and your personal preferences. Here’s what it offers:
What Sleepstation does:
- Online program: Sleepstation delivers a cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTi) program, considered the gold standard for treating insomnia.
- Personalized approach: It tailors the program based on your sleep patterns and challenges identified through online questionnaires and sleep diaries.
- Expert support: You’ll have access to a team of sleep coaches and therapists for guidance and support throughout the program.
- Medication-free: The program focuses on non-medical interventions, avoiding potential side effects of sleep medications.
- Improved sleep quality: Studies show Sleepstation helps people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed.
- Long-lasting effects: Unlike medications, CBTi’s benefits can be long-lasting, even after finishing the program.
- Convenient and accessible: You can access the program online from anywhere, eliminating the need for in-person visits.
- Safe and effective: Sleepstation is a clinically validated program with a good safety record.