Insomniac and Guardian reporter Leah Green explores the reason behind insomnia and the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep…
“Occasionally, something happens in life that disrupts sleep for a bit and it’s acute but it settles,” says Dr Kirstie Anderson, a consultant neurologist.
She says that if you go three to five nights a week, for three months or more that would be described as insomnia.
According to Dr Anderson, people with chronic insomnia seem to do things, not deliberately, that makes the night worse.
“They start to chase sleep; they start to become preoccupied with the act of sleep itself, so paradoxically, they are making insomnia worse.”
Dr Dimitri Davriloff, a clinical psychologist, says that many people who report poor sleep have excessively negative cognitions – a build-up of negative thoughts about sleep – just before bed.
“This is something really important, and to get it right merits clinical help and what solves insomnia problems best, is something called cognitive behavioural therapy,” says sleep professor of sleep medicine Colin Espie, “because you use strategies to deal with that mental preoccupation to help get the sleep pattern back into a normal pattern and to allow sleep to happen naturally,”
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) works by changing the thoughts and habits that make sleeping difficult.
Dr Davriloff says that CBT has been shown to work effectively for insomnia.
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