A Guide for Insomnia and Other Sleeping Disorders

By: Meir Stolear, BA (Hons.), MSc (London)

Sleeping disorders can be caused by complex biological, physiological and psychological problems and if you are suffering from long-term sleep difficulties you should seek treatment from a sleeping disorder specialist (please talk to your GP first). Prescribed or over the counter sleeping remedies are a short term solution, but can create long term dependency, which can create additional problems. The following is a basic psychological and behavioural guide to support the work that you may do with your CBT therapist for your sleeping disorder.

  • Keep regular sleeping hours. Going to bed and getting up at approximately the same time, seven days a week, all year round, will train your mind to relax and help you to achieve high quality sleep.
  • Train yourself to sleep at least six to eight hours each day. Your body and mind’s daily wear and tear are repaired during the hours you sleep and this average repair work takes a continuous six to eight hours a day. Splitting your sleeping hours (e.g. two hours sleep at midday and four at night) minimises the body’s repair.
  • Create a relaxing and restful environment in your bedroom. The following will give some ideas on how to achieve it:
  • Make sure your bedroom is not too hot nor too cold. Ideal temperatures are 19C to 21C (67F to 70F).
  • Keep the bedroom quiet and dark during hours of sleeping.
  • Decorate the bedroom with calming colours and calming furniture.
  • Invest your money in a high quality bed and bed set.
  • Use lavender smell in your bedroom, which has a calming effect on the mind.
  • Treat your bedroom as a place to relax, to sleep and to have sex. Don’t work, study, watch television, receive telephone calls or surf the internet in your bedroom.
  • Calm yourself by going for a short walks, swimming, yoga, listening to calming music, watching comedies on television or at the cinema at the end of your working day, but not too close to your bed time.
  • Cut down or stop taking stimulants such as coffee, tea, cigarettes, alcohol, at least five hours before bedtime.
  • Have hot milky drinks, relaxing herbal drinks or hot chocolate before bed time.
  • Be rational about the time you wish to go to bed. If you are an early morning person by nature, try to go to bed early (e.g. 10 pm). If you are a late morning person you may go to bed later (e.g. 11.30 pm).
  • If you can’t sleep don’t stay in bed, fighting your insomnia. Get up out of bed if 20 to 30 minutes has gone by and you are not yet asleep. Undertake mundane tasks (e.g. ironing, watching TV, reading a book, etc.) and go back to bed only when you cannot keep your eyes open.
  • Think rationally and try to prevent any thoughts that may make you anxious, stressed or depressed. Try not to catastrophise your sleeping problems which could make them much worse.

Please continue to practice the guide above and do not expect immediate results.
I hope that these tips give you some ideas to implement

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