The Mental Health Foundation in a recent study found that nearly a third of the British population suffered from various forms of insomnia. Non drug therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can aid the re-establishment of a natural sleep pattern. CBT focuses primarily on how you think about the areas of your life. It focuses on your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes and how these impact on your emotional behaviour. By changing negative patterns of thinking, in this case, issues related to sleep, CBT is a method that can be used without the need for reaching for sleeping pills.
Insomnia causes an array of side effects that can be harmful to day to day life. Symptoms may vary but can include the following:
- Difficulty in falling asleep at night
- Awakening during the night
- Waking up too early
- Never feeling rested after a night’s sleep
- Feeling tired during the day
- Anxiety, irritability and depression
- Difficulty in paying attention, remembering or being able to focus on tasks
- Tension headaches
How to beat insomnia using CBT methods.
- By keeping regular hours such as going to bed and getting up at similar times of the day will, along with other CBT practices help to alter sleep behavioural patterns.
- Exercising helps to reduce stress, leave three hours between exercise and sleep so that your body has time to wind down. Have a warm bath to relax your mind and body.
- It is important to create a restful environment for sleep. A comfortable bed is essential.
- Spend 10 minutes before bed writing down anything that is on your mind. By making a to-do list and ‘brain dumping’ you can start to eliminate any worries that may stop you sleeping or wake you up in the middle of the night.
- Drink less caffeine especially in the evenings. This goes for all stimulants including alcohol and smoking. By eating and drinking mindfully you can eat foods that will aid sleep.
- Do not nap during the day as it will only confuse your body clock and make it harder to sleep at night time.