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What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a chronic inability to sleep normally. Although most of us have experienced from time to time difficulties falling asleep or waking up due to various life events or just an unexplained blip in sleep rhythms, they usually go away. Acute episodes of insomnia can lead to chronic difficulties that lead to a diagnosis. Insomnia will usually involve one of the following:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night

  • Frequent waking in the night

  • Early morning waking

  • Difficulty falling back to sleep once awake

  • Fragmented, light or un-refreshing sleep

  • Medication and supplements are required to get to sleep

  • Low energy and sleepiness during the day

Insomnia is often a symptom of another problem such as stressanxietydepression or an underlying health condition. Lifestyle changes such as medication, lack of exercise, jet lag or caffeine in the bloodstream can also lead to insomnia. Unsatisfactory quality of sleep affects many aspects of one’s life such as energy levels, emotional balance, productivity and general health.

How common is Insomnia?

Insomnia is more common in women and older people and affect 10-15% of adults.

What treatment is available for Insomnia?

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that CBT should be the first line of treatment.

The treatment for Insomnia involves:

  • Improving sleep habits often referred to as ‘Sleep Hygiene’

  • Reducing anxiety through relaxation and breathing techniques

  • Modifying unhelpful beliefs around sleepand reducing the perceived threat of ‘sleep’

  • Exercise

  • Emotion regulation

  • Developing flexibility in attentional focus

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