• Can’t Sleep, Won’t sleep!

    If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or even get enough sleep, then surprise, surprise, you are likely to be suffering from sleep problems!

    Sleep is an important part of our ability to grow, process our daily experiences, dream, re-energise and prepare us for the following day. If we don’t get enough sleep, we generally resolve to feel exhausted, irritable, clumsy, forgetful and anxious.

    There are lots of different symptoms that come as a result of having a consistently sound night’s sleep. These can come in the forms of feelings, physical symptoms, behavioural traits and thoughts.

    The Symptoms of Sleep Problems:

    Feelings:

    • Anger
    • Frustration
    • Irritability
    • Difficulty regulating our mood
    • Stressed

    Physical Symptoms:

    • Exhaustion
    • Fatigue
    • Tired
    • Reduced Sex Drive
    • Difficulty Remembering Things

    Behavioural Traits:

    • Trying to nap during the day, if and when you can.
    • Staying awake at night and overthinking.
    • Checking your phone or scrolling for hours in bed.
    • Avoiding socialising to catch up on sleep.
    • Aggressive/ Oppositional Behaviour.

    Thoughts:

    • Tomorrow is a write-off because I am barely going to be able to function on little to no sleep.
    • I bet I will fall asleep when I am driving to work.
    • I won’t be able to do anything properly tomorrow.
    • My boss will fire me because I am always tired.
    • I know that I won’t end up sleeping tonight now.

    What are the different types of sleep problems?

    There are many different types of sleep disorders but the most common are:

    • Insomnia – An inability to fall asleep or even remain asleep.
    • Restless Leg Syndrome – This is an uncontrollable need to move your legs due to an uncomfortable feeling. It can helpful to move around, however, this is not often something that we can do late at night if other people around us are sleeping. 
    • Narcolepsy – This is when you might suffer from overwhelming drowsiness throughout the day and then fall into a sudden attack of sleep. Narcolepsy can lead to serious disruptions of our daily routine as those who suffer from it often find it difficult to remain awake for long periods of time.
    • Sleep Apnea – This can be a potentially complicated health concern in some cases. Sleep Apnea is when our breathing starts and stops throughout sleep.

    Generally, the most common types of sleep issues are:

    • Problems Falling Asleep
    • Problems Staying Asleep.
    • Poor Quality/ Frequently Disturbed Sleep.

    There is a whole array of reasons as to why sleep problems manifest in the first place. These could be due to:

    • Our current or past life events. Considering the details of our worries often resurface when we think we have time to face them or to break them down. In our busy 21st century lives when we are mostly dashing around on the go, the only time we have to stop to do this is in bed. Similarly, our current life situation might leave us believing that our re-occurring sleep problem must take the back-bench if we feel we have bigger worries to preoccupy us. The difficulty is that that the more we neglect our need for effective sleep, the more it will add to our problems as a growing and untamed process.
    • The Way We Think About It – Sometimes our thoughts can feel plagued with unhelpful streams of ‘there is no way I am going to end up falling asleep soon’ or worrying about the consequences of lack of sleep might have on our actions for the following day. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as our anxious thoughts are then producing the adrenaline to keep us awake even longer. Can you see how the viscous cycle is perpetuating itself?
    • Behavioural Patterns: Thinking about the environment that we are falling asleep in, taking control of what activities we do before we fall asleep (ensuring they are calming) as well as creating a sleep routine to help train our body-clock. That’s right, no cheeky naps during the day to “make-up” for lost time.
    • External Issues: It is important to consider any physical pain we might be experiencing, as well as any medications or drugs that we could be consuming. These can impair our ability to naturally “switch off”. Did you know that even our age can determine how well we are able to sleep? As we grow older, we are more likely to suffer from poorer quality of sleep.

    Strategies:

    • Recognising how our feelings, physical symptoms, behavioural patterns and thoughts all interact with each other to create a vicious cycle of ways in which our sleep is being prevented or interrupted.
    • Practising Controlled Breathing Exercises.
    • Practising Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques.
    • Establishing an effective sleep routine and sticking to it.
    • Taking the time to relax and indulge in doing something we love, like reading or listening to music.
    • Distract yourself with something positive such as light physical exercise.
    • Implementing self-care and ensuring we are being mindful about the foods we consume, as well as the drugs we take, socialising with friends and being observant to the world around us.
    • Fine-tuning our ability to problem-solve and think carefully about possible solutions.

    Although it can feel like it could be difficult to establish a decent sleep routine, it is not impossible.

    Sleep deprivation can cause physical health problems such as an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other mental health conditions too such as depression and anxiety.

    Just through gaining a deeper understanding of the causes, effects and ways in which we can some of the highly effective strategies will help you manage the sleep problems that you are experiencing. It can seem like a steep hill to climb; however, it is possible given a commitment to work hard at ensuring that these strategies are consistently practised. It is important to remember that everyone requires different amounts of sleep, based on their activity level and just simply who they are as a person. What you might need to sustain yourself and allow you to grow, will be different from someone else’s needs. If you are experiencing difficulties and have any questions about harnessing sleep problems, then please reach out to the professional therapists at Arkesie for further support and guidance.

    By; Sarah Hicks