Sleep... Most of us love it and want lots more, especially on a Monday morning! Though, unfortunately for some people, simply the word “sleep” triggers an anxious response. Bedtime can be the most dreaded part of the day. Whilst the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, good quality sleep is important for everyone.

At some point or another, most people have difficulty with their sleep. However, reoccurring sleep issues, such as struggling to get to sleep, waking frequently throughout the night, waking up exhausted despite a full nights sleep and difficulty staying awake in daytime, could indicate a sleep disorder.

What are the signs and symptoms of a Sleep Problem/Disorder?

  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Have you noticed that despite being tired and wanting to sleep, your body just won’t let you? You may lie there watching the minutes tick by, as everyone else around you is asleep. Or, perhaps you finally fall asleep and then wake early in the morning and cannot fall back to sleep. As a result, you may find yourself waking exhausted and dragging yourself out of bed.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness. You may struggle to stay awake throughout the day. You may even feel drowsy and sluggish, despite a decent amount of sleep. Some people even find themselves falling asleep at unusual times, such as in the midst of a conversation or in the while eating a meal.
  • Does anyone say you are a noisy sleeper? Perhaps your partner complains of really loud snoring, or describes you gasping for air or making choking sounds. Some people with a sleep disorder stop breathing for short periods of time in their sleep.
  • Uncomfortable leg sensations when trying to fall asleep. You may experience a strange, creepy crawly sensation in your legs, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. It may feel like you cannot control your leg movements.

How does a Sleep Problem/Disorder affect me?

  • Mood changes. You may feel irritable, flat or stressed. Perhaps you also feel anxious in the lead up to bedtime. It is also common with sleep problems to dread starting your day, due to the feeling of exhaustion. It can be very difficult to feel positive and happy when you are not getting adequate sleep.
  • Disturbances in sleep affect our cognitive abilities. You may experience memory difficulties and be more forgetful than usual. You might struggle to concentrate at work or school and feel like you are in a haze. Things may be piling up around you, but your exhaustion makes it hard to keep up.

Physical health

  • Sleep is a basic, yet fundamental need. When our bodies do not sleep adequately, our physical health is impacted. You may suffer headaches, feel nauseous and experience body aches and pains. You may also get sick more frequently. Chronic sleep disturbance can also put you at higher risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
  • Weight gain. Sleep disturbance impacts your hormones, causing an increase in hunger. The body also craves foods with high sugar and fat content to boost energy levels. You may also struggle to find the will power to exercise. Resultant weight gain can worsen sleep problems, such as sleep apnoea, in a vicious cycle.
  • Sleep problems affect our relationships in many ways. Lack of sleep can cause stress and irritability, which in turn creates tension and conflict in relationships. For example, you may frequently snap at your partner. You may also find distance grows in your relationship due to your sleep issues. For example, you may need to sleep in different bedrooms, to minimise disturbing your partner. This may leave you feeling isolated and lonely. Additionally, you may find that your sex life has deteriorated.

How can I treat my Sleep Problem/Disorder?

Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been proven via research to be the most effective treatment for sleep disorders, such an insomnia. CBT includes relaxation training, stimulus control, sleep hygiene, sleep restriction and cognitive therapy. Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome can be treated by lifestyle changes and self-care, with or without medical interventions.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?

We are experienced and trained in treating sleep problems. If you are experiencing a sleep problem and would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.