Sleep is something everybody needs. It plays a vital role in both our physical and mental health. But, sleeping problems, such as insomnia, can make it difficult for some people to get enough sleep.
As well as making you feel tired, lack of sleep can lead to physical illness and increase your risk of heart disease and obesity. Mentally, not getting enough sleep can lead to anxiety and can make it hard for you to concentrate.
On this page, we will explore what insomnia is, what causes the problem and how hypnotherapy for insomnia can help.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is defined as difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning.
Most of us will have experienced a disrupted sleep and will know how it feels when you can’t seem to fall asleep. It may be that you are thinking about the next day or have had a coffee too near to bedtime. Perhaps you found it easy to fall asleep, but continue to wake up through the night. Either way, a rough sleep can leave you feeling drained and irritable the next day. Those who suffer from insomnia will experience these feelings regularly.
It is estimated that a third of people in the UK have episodes of insomnia during their lives. While it can affect anyone at any age, people over the age of 60 and women appear to be more susceptible.
Different types of insomnia
There are many different types of insomnia but, generally, they are split into two categories:
Insomnia is classified as temporary or acute if it lasts between one night and three or four weeks. Common causes of temporary insomnia include jet lag, a change in routine or working conditions, stress, caffeine and alcohol.
Some cases of temporary insomnia are named transient or intermittent insomnia. This is when the person is experiencing sleeping problems periodically over months or years.
This is also known as chronic insomnia. Generally, the problem will persist almost nightly, for at least four weeks. This can often be when the pain or medication of medical conditions disrupts sleep. These may include arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, allergies, changing hormones or mental health issues.
Symptoms of insomnia
Symptoms differ depending on individual circumstances. However, there are common symptoms, including:
- Being awake for long periods at night.
- Not being able to fall asleep.
- Waking up several times during the night.
- Waking up very early and being unable to get back to sleep.
- Feeling tired and groggy the next morning.
- Finding it difficult to concentrate or function properly.
- Feeling irritable.
If you suspect you may be suffering from insomnia, it is important to speak to your doctor. They will rule out any health conditions that may be causing your sleeplessness.
Treatment for insomnia
When treating sleeping problems, there are various approaches you could take. It is important to first speak to your doctor to eliminate any physical causes. Your doctor may recommend you take medicine to help you sleep. For some people, this can be an effective treatment, but it is important to try and find out the underlying cause of the problem. Behavioural therapies and talk therapies are often also advised.
Hypnotherapy is another treatment option that many people find effective. Hypnotherapy for insomnia can tackle any potential causes, while helping you relax and drop off to sleep. For example, if anxiety or depression is the source of your insomnia, hypnosis for sleep may complement your existing treatment. Overcoming these issues may then help to improve your sleeping pattern. Alternatively, if a habit is causing your insomnia (such as alcohol) hypnotherapy for insomnia can work to break this habit.
Hypnotherapy for sleep
While some sleeping problems will have an obvious cause, others may not. Hypnotherapy for insomnia can be helpful if you are unsure why you are having difficulties sleeping. Using various techniques, a hypnotherapist will tap into your subconscious to uncover what may have triggered the problem. Once the cause is found, a tailored treatment created by the hypnotherapist can begin.
When suffering from insomnia for a long period of time, the patterns of sleep disturbances can become embedded in your subconscious. Hypnosis for insomnia aims to communicate with this and suggest positive changes. These suggestions will look to break the negative thought patterns causing the problem.
An important part of hypnotherapy for insomnia is teaching you how to relax. For some people, physical or mental tension can make sleeping difficult. A hypnotherapist may use relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation to help reduce tension.
Often your hypnotherapist will teach you self-hypnosis. This can help you to develop a routine, as well as learn how to deal with your triggers causing the problem. Using hypnosis for insomnia at home will help you take the tools you’ve learnt in the session room into your everyday life.
The number of hypnotherapy sessions you’ll need will depend on your personal circumstances. Some people only need one session, while others may require deeper work. An initial consultation with your hypnotherapist will give you a better understanding of how many sessions you may need.
Causes of insomnia
There are many potential causes for the problem. In some cases, it may be only one cause that leads to sleeplessness, while others may experience a combination of factors.
Some of the potential causes of insomnia include:
Physical health conditions
You may find falling asleep difficult if you suffer from a health condition that causes you pain. Similarly, if you have a condition that affects your breathing, such as asthma. It is thought that hormonal problems and urinary conditions can also impact sleep patterns.
There is a chance the medication you are taking is affecting your sleep. If you suspect a health problem or believe your medication may be causing your sleep problem, speak to your doctor.
Mental health conditions
Certain mental health concerns can create sleeping problems. For example, a person suffering severe depression is more likely to suffer from insomnia. The low moods that come with depression can also be intensified when a person is lacking sleep.
Anxiety is another condition that is often associated with insomnia. Anxiety can make a person feel tense, worried and overwhelmed. These feelings may make falling asleep difficult. The person’s mind will often be racing when trying to sleep, feeling as if they cannot “switch off”. The worry can also disrupt sleep and the person may wake up throughout the night. If this pattern continues, the worry about not getting enough sleep can turn into a vicious cycle.
Daily habits and lifestyle can influence sleeping patterns. If you drink alcohol regularly, for example, you may find that you wake up during the night. Alcohol is a stimulant and, while it may seem easy to fall asleep after having a few drinks, it usually leads to a poor sleep overall. Similarly, drugs and caffeine can lead to sleep problems. Any substance addiction is likely to affect how you sleep, so getting treatment is important. If you suffer from insomnia, it is recommended you reduce your caffeine intake.
Working late into the evening can make it difficult for the brain to switch off. Shift work can cause havoc with your internal clock and make sleeping tricky. If your work (or work-related stress) is causing your insomnia, it may be worth reassessing your hours.
Treating insomnia is usually only effective when you know what the underlying cause is. Speaking to a professional, such as a hypnotherapist, can help you uncover the root of the problem.
Relaxation is a vital part of an effective hypnotherapy session. It’s important to practise some self-help tips at home to enhance your experience.
Improve your sleep hygiene by practising the following:
- Create a routine. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps to reduce stress and getting your body moving will make you physically tired.
- Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Replace tea and coffee with herbal teas.
- Avoid large meals late at night. Eat lightly in the evening. Heavy meals make it more difficult for your body to shut down during digestion.
- Make relaxation a priority. Dedicate some time in the evening to have a warm bath or read a book.
- Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom. Studies have found electronic devices to affect sleep. Try to keep them out of the bedroom and stop using them an hour before bed.
- Write a to-do list. Sleep can be difficult if you are busy thinking about all the things you need to do the next day. Get the worries out of your head and write them down.
- Make your bedroom more sleep-friendly. Ensure your bed and pillows are comfortable and keep your room cool and dark.
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