Sleep is a great way to finish one day and start the next day anew. However, it’s not just a peaceful way to pass time. Quality sleep has several important benefits which are well known, such as heightened alertness, boosted mood, increased energy, better concentration, more stamina, greater motivation, better judgment, and more.1 Unfortunately, insomnia may rob you of all of these. It’s, therefore, no surprise that you’d want to improve the quality of your sleep and awaken your best again.
What is insomnia?
If you are continually struggling to fall asleep and/or remain asleep, it may indicate that you’re suffering from insomnia.2 It can be a lonely and debilitating sleep disorder, and can vary from person to person.
Insomnia is defined by the quality of your sleep and how you feel as a direct result, as opposed to just counting the hours. For example, you may get a full 8 or 9 hours sleep, but still feel fatigued or drowsy the following day.
What can cause insomnia?
Everyone is unique, and so are their sleep patterns.
This means that the causes of insomnia can vary too. For instance, someone may be suffering from insomnia because they’re consuming too much caffeine later in the day, while someone else’s insomnia may be due to stress and anxiety, or even a physiological reason.3
So, can insomnia be cured?
The good news is, yes – most cases of insomnia can be treated! Through a few stages.
The term “cure” means that, after treatment, you no longer have that particular condition anymore. By addressing the underlying causes and making changes to your daily habits, thought processes and sleep environment, you can work towards restoring your optimum sleep quality and living a healthier life once again.
The ‘why’ behind your insomnia
In order to properly treat your insomnia, you need to start with the potential reasons behind what may be causing or contributing to it.4
Ask yourself questions like:
- Am I under a lot of pressure at the moment?
- Do I underestimate the value of good quality sleep?
- Do I not make sleep a priority?
- Am I feeling a little down or depressed?
- Have I been feeling ongoing worry or anxiety that keeps my mind racing?
- Have I been affected by a traumatic experience?
- Am I taking medication that may be upsetting my sleep?
- Is my room comfortable and inviting for rest?
- Do I keep a consistent sleep schedule?
Emotional issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to insomnia, along with daytime habits, inconsistent sleep routines and overall physical health. These questions can help you or your doctor narrow down potential reasons behind your insomnia so that the right treatment can be tailored to your needs.
How to treat insomnia
After you’ve identified some possible reasons that may be contributing to your insomnia, it’s time to take positive action!
Here are some potential options to help you.
1. Implement better sleep hygiene practices
First things first – tick off the basics of good sleeping habits.5 Improving your sleep may come down to small behavioural changes such as avoiding too much caffeine, alcohol and large meals close to bedtime.
You can also try regulating your sleep patterns to keep them consistent, turn off electronics at least an hour before bed, and spend some time winding down before you get under the covers. Additionally, ensure your bedroom is comfortable, quiet and dark so that it’s ideal for sleep when you get into bed.
While these may seem like small changes, when they’re put all together, they can do wonders to improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Speak to your Doctor
If you improve your sleep hygiene and you’re still experiencing insomnia, it may be time to see your Doctor, as the next line of treatment involves getting external help.
Your Doctor will open many doors to effective treatment options that are specifically tailored to addressing chronic insomnia, which may include the following:
a. Behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-i)6 is the use of counselling and practical techniques to adjust your approach to sleep in general. During these sessions, they will help guide you towards a healthier outlook to sleep and address any underlying issues which may be preventing you from getting sufficient shut-eye each night.
As this is a service provided generally by a psychologist, psychiatrist or other health practitioner with specialised training, it usually requires a referral from your Doctor.
There are multiple over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription sleep aids that may also help with insomnia. Through the professional guidance of your Doctor, they can direct you towards the right options, together with a plan of dosage and duration to help you overcome your insomnia.7
Which options are you going to try?
Don’t let insomnia slow you down. There are so many positive benefits to restoring your sleep quality for the good of your health and those around you.
Try putting some of the above few steps into place so you can begin your journey to better sleep.
What’s your SleepScore?
Have you thought about how well you sleep each night?
To improve your sleep quality, you need to start by understanding how well you’re sleeping now.
If you’re curious and want to get a better gauge of the quality of sleep you get each night, then ‘there’s an app for that!’
Simply download the Sleep Tracker App, follow the instructions and give it a try.
It will give you a score based on your responses and provide you with a way to track your patterns to help improve your sleep!
Citations (click + to see more)
1. Source: Good sleep = good health. Government of South Australia.
2. Source: Insomnia. Health Direct – the Australian Department of Health.
3. Source: Insomnia. Sleep Health Foundation Australia.
4. Source: Managing Insomnia. Australian Psychological Society.
5. Source: What is insomnia. CCI, Government of Western Australia.
6. Source: British Association for Psychopharmacology consensus statement on evidence-based treatment of insomnia, parasomnias and circadian rhythm disorders. J Psychopharmacol. 2010 Nov;24(11):1577-601. doi: 10.1177/0269881110379307. Epub 2010 Sep 2.
7. Source: Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice, Part B. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).