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Difficulty sleeping? Try our tips

March 24, 2017


Sleep is often something we take for granted but sometimes events, people, children, stress can break the cycle and we can find ourselves tossing and turning, struggling to sleep. Not only can poor sleep disrupt productivity and mood, it can lead to mental health problems and even has effects on blood pressure and heart problems.

Just as brushing (and flossing!) teeth is a fundamental part of good teeth hygiene, there are certain things you can do to maintain good sleep habits.

Environment - A quiet, cool and dark room is important

Interruptors:

a.Caffeine - avoid as much as possible and certainly avoid close to bedtime

b.Exercise - exercise is important for sleep and well-being but avoid close to bedtime

c.Sugar - sugar can wind up your energy levels

d.Alcohol - while alcohol can make you drowsy, it actually disrupts the architecture of sleep so sleep is not as restorative

e.Light - artificial lighting especially from electronic devices emit light that tricks the brain to think it is daytime

f.Naps - napping reduces tiredness and makes you more awake and less likely to sleep

Routine - It is important to have the same ritual to do before sleeping so that your mind knows that sleep is coming. The same strategy that help babies to sleep, also applies to adults!

Talking to a friend, Dr Tony Fernando, a sleep psychiatrist who finds that most people underestimate how important the above is. Any treatment for sleep is compromised if the fundamentals are not sorted.

However, there are many people who find that even following the above steps, they will find it hard to sleep. It is important to see your doctor to rule out other conditions that you may have such as anxiety/depression or other health problems that may be interfering with sleep.

If there isn't any other factors, then the most recommended and effective treatment is called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). It is a proven talking therapy to help reduce anxiety and improve the quality of sleep without using medications or supplements. In fact, it is shown in many studies to be even more effective in the long term than taking sleeping pills.

Personally, I have had experience with insomnia myself and I have a special interest in insomnia and I am happy to see anyone who wants to learn more about CBT-I. If interested, please first book a consultation with your GP to discuss further.