SLEEP – Are you Getting Enough?

Paul Glynn, counselling, CBT therapy and psychotherapist London. MSc Counselling, PG Adv Cert CBT, Adv Cert Clinical Supervision, BPhil, MBACP (Accred).
Author: Paul Glynn, Clinical Director, Psychotherapist, Counsellor & Couples Therapist
Last updated: 27th March 2024

Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Whilst the odd disrupted night can be managed, ongoing sleeplessness can take a serious toll on our wellbeing.  Not sleeping well can be a symptom and/or cause of mental health problems.

Sleep problems are common, and the reasons we struggle to sleep are likely to change throughout our lives.  For instance sleeplessness can be triggered by illness, work challenges or periods of change.  Sometimes the changing seasons can also impact how well we sleep.

Sleep enables rest and repair for our mind and body.  It is vital for physical and mental wellbeing.   If someone cannot get to sleep or stay asleep for long enough to feel refreshed, they might be experiencing sleep deprivation or insomnia.  Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can last for months or years.

Some of the signs of sleep problems include: –

  • find it difficult to fall asleep
  • lie awake for long periods at night
  • wake up several times during the night
  • wake up early and are unable to get back to sleep
  • feel down or have a lower mood
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • are more irritable than usual

Tips To Help You Sleep Better

  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable.  It is important that your room is not too hot, nor too cold.  Quiet space helps too.
  • Take some time to relax before heading to bed.  Some people find mindfulness helpful, and there are many ways of focusing on slowing down and relaxing as you approach sleep time.
  • Get into a routine and try to stick to a sleep schedule.  Heading to bed at roughly the same time, and getting up at the same time can really help.  Even if you don’t sleep that well, try and get up at your usual time.
  • Physical activity is great for sleep as well as your general health.  Don’t overdo it, but try some regular walking.  The best time to exercise is during the daytime, particularly late afternoon or early evening.  Later than this can disturb your sleep. 
  • Avoid technology.  Ban your smartphone, computer and TV from your sleep space.  Avoid looking at them for an hour before bed. These devices emit a blue light, which suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin.
  • Spicy food, alcohol and large meals eaten before going to sleep can have a detrimental impact on your sleep. For many, drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks late in the day can also impact sleep. 
  •   Don’t watch the clock.  If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing. Read, watch some TV or listen to quiet music. After a while you should feel tired enough to go to bed again.
  • If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself you can deal with it tomorrow.

How Therapy Can Help

Some sleep problems  come from a medical condition, others have psychological roots.  A person might have some trouble sleeping during a difficult life transition such as a change in job, or during divorce and separation.   Anxiety or depression can also cause sleep issues. Without treatment, both conditions may worsen.  Therapy can be a helpful solution. It can enable you to understand the cause and effects of sleep issues and how to establish better sleep.

Therapy for sleep difficulties can help you:

  • Change problem behaviors
  • Set and achieve positive sleep goals
  • Becoming more self-aware which can lead to improved sleep
  • Learning relaxation skills to improve your sleep

Some of the techniques your therapist might employ to help you address sleep problems include:

  • Keeping a Sleep Diary, so you can identify harmful sleep patterns, and also identify triggers of disturbed sleep.
  • Providing advice and guidance on things you can do to support better sleep and things to avoid

Whatever the cause of your sleep problems, it can be helpful to have the guidance and expertise of a trained professional. Contact KlearMinds today to book an appointment with one of our highly skilled therapists.

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