So you think you have a sleep disorder, now what?

Everyone gets bouts of insomnia.  It’s usually linked to something happening in your life that is stressful or causes anxiety or worry. Once the event or issues have passed, you’ll find you can usually go back to your usual sleep pattern, and sleep is no longer something you may feel like you’re chasing.

But sometimes insomnia can become a regular feature.  According to the NHS, if you’re not able to sleep at least three times a week and it’s happened for more than three months, then it’s time to seek professional help.

The NHS website has a list of questions that you can answer to find out if you do have insomnia and gives a little advice about what your next steps should be.

Sleep hygiene and tips and tricks that you’ll find in the Live Differently articles are all ways you can set a good foundation for sleep. If you’re having short bouts of insomnia, it might be useful to help you get back into good habits.  But they are not a cure for a sleep disorder and they may not work for everyone.

Sleep disorders come in a few forms. Insomnia, Sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome are just a few. To find out more about different kinds of sleep disorders, have a look at the Sleep Foundation website on sleep disorders.

Everyone is different.  We are all unique, and the way you think is different from how everyone else thinks. In this respect, everyone’s sleep is different. What helps you get to sleep or sleep well may not work for someone else or may work differently.

This needs to be kept in mind when looking for ways to help you sleep or sleep better.  It’s also important to understand that the more you think about sleep and sleeping well, the more you might find you’re chasing sleep.  The best way to get to sleep and sleep well is not to think about it, which can be easier said than done.

If you’ve been struggling with sleep for a while and you’re at your wit’s end, please don’t be pulled into any miracle sleep cures.  Make sure you research exactly what it is that is on offer. Reviews from other buyers are not enough.  The only real ‘cure’ for you may be to do with how you think about sleep built on top of good sleep habits and hygiene.  As the NHS suggest in the link above, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi) is a therapy that works for treating insomnia. This is the treatment that most clinically trained Sleep Experts use to help patients with Insomnia.

An alternative is ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).  Although similar in some respects this is an approach that Dr Guy Meadows, founder of The Sleep School developed.  You can find out more about the Sleep School and how they can help via their website or Dr Guy Meadows book*.

Different Sleep Experts, like any practitioner, will have a slightly different approach even if they use the same overall therapy.  It’s a good idea to find someone who you feel comfortable with and can build a relationship with that will be beneficial for your sleep disorder.  Other places to find help via online courses, webinars or in-person might be Expert Sleep Physiologist Stephanie Romiszewski of the Sleepyhead Clinic, via Katheryn Pinkham of the Insomnia Clinic, or Dr Lindsay Browning from Trouble Sleeping.

 

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. You’re not needy or silly to complain about not sleeping and being tired.  Not being able to sleep or not getting enough sleep can have a massive impact on your day, the people around you and how you think.  Don’t dismiss it or think you don’t have it as bad as others so you shouldn’t seek help.

When sleep starts to become difficult for you, it is THE time to seek help.  If you’ve tried everything or even if you haven’t and sleep is an issue for you more than three months down the line, it’s time to seek professional help. Get yourself an appointment to see your GP or a Sleep expert before it starts to have a significant impact on your life.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

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