Nearly everyone has difficulty getting to sleep from time to time, but for some people, this can be a regular ongoing problem. When this happens, not only do you feel tired but it can really interfere with your day-to-day functioning and affect your health. Learning how to manage sleep problems can greatly improve your quality of life.
Examples of common sleep problems
This is a condition where you are having trouble sleeping or staying asleep for long enough.
It generally includes difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep (poor sleep quality) or waking much too early.
This a sleep disorder that causes an intense, often irresistible urge to move your legs. This sensation is brought on by resting, for example lying down in bed or sitting for prolonged periods, such as when you are driving or watching a movie.
It typically occurs in the evening, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
It can lead to daytime sleepiness, irritability and concentration.
Using this 2-week long sleep diary is a useful way to track your lifestyle habits or daily activities that could be contributing to your sleep problems.
What can I do to improve my sleep?
If you are experiencing the effects of poor sleep, great improvements can be made by making a few changes to your daily routine and habits. So you can be more energetic and productive during your waking hours, here are 5 simple tips to help you sleep better at night:
If these measures haven't helped, then visit your doctor to discuss whether you need other treatment. Your doctor will want to find out about what has been happening in your life, your pattern of sleep and whether you have any other health conditions. This is because the treatment for sleep problems varies depending on the underlying issue.
The main treatment options for insomnia is determining if there is an underlying cause and eliminating that cause.
It can also help to adopt good sleep habits.
Another possible treatment is of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that's specifically designed for people with insomnia (called CBT-I). Its aim is to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that may be contributing to your insomnia. It's an effective treatment for many people and can have long-lasting results.
Sleeping tablets or medicines that encourage sleep are not used often because they have the potential to cause harm. Using sleeping tablets on an ongoing basis can lead to you developing a dependency on them, as well as an increased risk of falls, confusion and difficulties with driving. Research has shown that taking sleeping tablets for more than 10 nights in a row can make sleeping difficulties worse.
If you're taking sleeping tablets on a regular basis, ask your doctor about ways to help you stop taking them. It may be necessary to stop taking them gradually, taking several weeks to months to stop completely.
Sleep restriction therapy is a behavioural treatment for insomnia that works by reducing the amount of time spent in bed awake and not sleeping. Several studies have shown it to be effective for many people with insomnia.