Problems Sleeping, Insomnia, Sleep Deprivation & Sleep Disorders
Quality Sleep When we sleep well it provides a restorative process for lost energy. Good quality sleep allows our brain to properly rest, repair damaged tissues and can enhance our wellbeing, digestion, alertness, concentration and impacts upon our mood. We only sleep properly when we feel safe and secure, therefore stress and anxiety can be an influential factor. If we lack sleep or it is scattered this can also affect our moods, level of irritability & mental fatigue, anxiety (for some paranoiac thoughts, feelings, can occur). Our sleep problems can be episodic or chronic, considerably affecting our wellbeing & quality of life, not just at night, but during the day as if we are a zombie affecting our concentration, productivity, decision making, sex life, fertility and energy levels. (Yet for others our heightened energy levels, affecting our immune system, elevated moods may mean we need less sleep.) Failure to cry can contribute to insomnia, although others may become more tearful, with heightened levels of impatience, irritability.
Sleep Problems Some people may be experiencing sleeping problems, not have enough sleep or too much sleep. Some of us may simply be susceptible to sleep problems, have a sleep deficit, yet others not. Causes of insomnia are not fully known. There may be genetic, medical reasons (e.g. chronic pain, illness, low blood sugar - hypoglycaemia) for why we have sleep problems, which we may need to check out. Certain hormones are said to affect our sleep and there may be a biological component. During menopause we may struggle to sleep or frequently wake up. Levels of melatonin, serotonin, affecting our stress hormones often affect our sleep, and this can become circular, because when we are tired, exhausted, or don't get enough sleep, our ability to manage stress reduces. The quality of our sleep declines with our age. (Fear of death/dying can be a real concern for some.) The harder we try to sleep or worry we won't sleep, the more difficult it may become. How we look after our body, work life balance, many ingrained lifestyle factors, including any addictions, (and technology overuse) may affect our ability to sleep well. Tired of being tired, internalising our feelings, depression and trauma may also directly affect our sleep loss. Sleep deprivation affects our moods, irritability, emotional regulation, concentration, infections. The therapy may include exploring what else might lay behind our sleep problems specifically for us.
Disturbed Sleep & Insomnia Sleep disruption can come in many forms. We may have deep quality sleep, which nourishes us, but waking up early in the morning this just doesn't feel enough. Having a problem sleeping, we may lay awake at night, mulling things over. We may be waking up in the middle of the night, thinking or worrying about things (e.g. work, relationships). We may feel anxious, become panicked when we can't go back to sleep and this can compound our sleep problems. Counselling can explore this further with us. Ruminating about things, with restless or repetitive thoughts, we may have difficulties relaxing our mind, clearing our head, letting go, soothing ourself. We may become depressed. Some of us may not want to sleep for fear of not waking up (some may hold a death anxiety). We may have trouble getting off to sleep, problems staying asleep or disturbed sleep - experiencing insomnia, over-stimulated. Waking earlier than we need to may also be a problem. When awake we may be on automatic pilot or hyper-alert, and our sleep deprivation may affect our physical health, emotions, moods, energy levels & concentration. Through our disruptive sleep patterns, we may lack vitality, including our sexual vitality, become sluggish, weary & apathetic. Our relationships & work may suffer. The counselling & psychotherapy can support you in overcoming any stress-related insomnia.
Getting Off To Sleep, Problems Getting Up We may have developed sleeping patterns over time, which are hard to break, and are now seeking sleep help. Bedtime procrastination - staying up late, getting off to sleep (especially for those with no time concept) can be a challenge. (We may experience sleep anxiety, sleep fear, sleep terror.) Some of us may struggle to get up in the morning. Others struggle with lack of sleep. Overthinking, some may struggle to let go, soothe ourself, utilise our imagination. Putting off sleep, we may have trouble stilling our monkey mind with all its inner chatter, which can become like a vicious circle, where we worry about not sleeping. Obsessing about things, mulling things over, our thoughts may race ahead. The harder we try to sleep (and trying not to try) the more counterproductive this seems to become. Aroused, we may find it difficult to close down. We may use alcohol as a sedation to help get us off to sleep, or for our insomnia, which can turn out to be counterproductive, especially if we have problems waking up in the morning. The sleep problems therapy may also explore the impact of sleep experiences/habits in the past that may affect us now. Death anxiety may also affect some of us getting off to sleep. Counselling can explore what specifically might be happening for us that prevents us having a good night's sleep, getting up in the morning.
Delaying Going To Sleep Being a bit of a night owl, some of us don't care very much about sleep - stopping ourselves from going to sleep, avoiding going to bed, yet pay the consequences. Sleep deprivation may result. Not wanting the day to end we may put sleeping off, knowing we are doing this, yet can't stop. Putting things off, including our sleep, or struggles getting up in the morning, may be linked to our procrastination (or, for others, our ADHD). We may find it hard to switch off & let go (especially if we are still hungry for stimulation) - saying "I'll go to bed in a minute - I'll just do this one thing". Besides, we may enjoy our own space & time, with no intrusions (even relieved when others go to bed before us or the freedom that no one is telling us to go to sleep). In spite of our age, staying up for some may have a rebellious edge, yet inside we may be struggling with our loneliness. For others it can be as if we are waiting to be told or given kind permission to go to bed or arise in the morning, struggling to compassionately do this for ourselves.
Actions In Our Sleep All sorts of actions may occur when we are sleeping (e.g. we may hit out at our bed fellow in our sleep, unaware we are doing this). These actions may also be explored in the sleep therapy.
Difficulties Getting Out Of Bed, Oversleeping We may struggle to get up in the morning, start the day, find momentum or much enthusiasm to get up in the morning. Some of us may actually sleep more than we need to & can even become depressed. Addicted to sleep, too much sleep can be a problem for some people and counselling for sleep problems explore this further.
Counselling & psychotherapy can help us see what is happening about our sleep patterns, investigating other options, alongside any unhelpful attitudes, beliefs about sleeping and what helps us let go, relax into sleep in a comfortable bed, relax our body, quieten our mind and feel refreshed. (What relaxes one person, may be a torture for someone else.) Regarding our specific sleep problems the counselling for sleep problems may also look at other factors, such as:
- The impact of sleep on ageing
- Any health issues, certain conditions (e.g. ADHD/ADD)
- Any initial triggers in not sleeping well, e.g. depression, trauma, bereavement, redundancy
- Being overly focused on work, effects of shift work
- Pressures of daily living
- Our sleeping history
- Our specific struggles in getting off to sleep
- Our sleeping environment
- Our sleeping patterns & rituals, "sleep hygiene"
- What helps us unwind, relax
- What disturbs us at night
- What simple changes could be made
- Our lifestyle
- Our medication, alcohol, sexual life
- Eating lighter meals, earlier
- How us wind down, relax & how we don't (especially before we go to bed), including what happens in our body
- Our sleeping regimes e.g. computer, telephone, TV, etc turned off one hour before bed time
- Our emotional life
- What we tell ourself - our thoughts & beliefs
- Filtering our thoughts
- Calming our racing mind
- Trusting ourself that it's OK to switch off
- What we do with our imagination
- Our dreams
- If we sleep with a partner - how intimacy, the issues of space, disturbance (e.g. movements in bed, sounds, snoring), etc. affect our sleep
- What helps us feel safe and let go of what we need to let go of
- What soothes us
- What else is happening in our life
- What gives us peace of mind
- The role of our conscious, unconscious selves
- The impact and triggers following our sleep problems, e.g. irritability, concentration, moods
FAQs about the sleep problems & insomnia Counselling London practice based in Kings Cross, Camden:
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