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The Things We Need To Know To Sleep

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 The Things We Need To Know To Sleep

Can’t get to sleep when you hit the pillow? A dodgy cycle can seriously affect the way you live your life. Wide-awake in the middle of the night and all whacked out by daybreak? Insomnia affects one in 20 young people in the UK. Here’s what could be depriving you of that much needed shut eye.

One third of the UK population suffers from insomnia, a prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate, uninterrupted sleep. Symptoms may include having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early in the morning, feeling unrefreshed. The consequences are unpleasant, leaving sufferers feeling exhausted, irritable and unable to concentrate on simple tasks.

There’s no one specific trigger for insomnia but certain conditions seem to make individuals more likely to experience it. Stress is a major contributor. Traumatic events such as acute illness, injury or surgery, the loss of a loved one, exams, or trouble at work can all disrupt one’s sleep patterns. In such cases, normal sleep almost always returns when the individual recovers from the event or becomes acclimated to the new situation.

Illness: can often be the cause of sleep loss, especially if you’re in pain or suffering from respiratory disorders. If it’s a long-term problem, or it’s really causing you grief, your GP may be able to help.

anxiety & stress: are both common sleep obstacles as personal problems can often seem worse last thing at night. Talking things through with someone you trust can get things in perspective, or ask your GP to recommend an appropriate course of counselling.

Drugs: such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine (in tobacco), stimulants and some antidepressants can screw up your sleep patterns. Cutting down or quitting should hasten your arrival in the Land of Nod, but always seek the advice of your doctor if you’re taking prescribed medication and you suspect it’s keeping you awake.

There are many other reasons for insomnia but these are the more common explanations. However Treatment is related to the cause, if the cause can be determined. Patients are evaluated with the help of a medical and sleep history (sleep diary). Chronic suffers may be treated through cognitive behavioural therapy involving relaxation and reconditioning.

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