Best Ways To Help Insomnia – Insomnia is a common but serious sleep disorder that affects the physical and mental health of millions of people worldwide. It is usually characterised by difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing truly restorative sleep. Insomnia can be caused by a wide variety of factors, but because stress, lifestyle changes, and the overconsumption of technology all play a role in the development of insomnia, its prevalence has been on the rise in today’s modern age.

Insomnia has a circular relationship with mental health, which is why its presence should be taken seriously. Individuals with mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are much more likely to experience insomnia in conjunction with other symptoms. Conversely, chronic insomnia can also be a contributing factor in the development or exacerbation of mental health issues. Because of this, mental health becomes a key player in the discussion of insomnia, particularly its causes and solutions. Although every individual’s situation is unique, many mental health conditions are commonly associated with insomnia, including:

  • Stress and anxiety: Many individuals experiencing stress and anxiety find sleeping difficult. The racing thoughts and heightened arousal which are common symptoms of anxiety make unwinding at bedtime incredibly difficult.
  • Depression: A hallmark of depression is changing sleep patterns, such as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, early morning awakenings, or oversleeping. Disruption of your natural sleep pattern often results in poor quality or insufficient sleep, resulting in insomnia over time.
  • Trauma: Any stress response is not conducive to a restful night, but those who have trauma-based disorders tend to have even greater sleep disturbances as a result of the nightmares and intrusive thoughts that are commonly experienced.

Although medication-focused approaches to treat insomnia should always be discussed with your physician, counselling can be an important avenue to explore in order to address the mental health components of insomnia. At Horizon Plymouth, our counsellors can help you to address the root causes of insomnia, empowering you with coping mechanisms and a safe space to explore your mental health struggles. Counselling allows you to take a holistic look at your sleep patterns, daily routines, and underlying psychological issues, identifying and addressing cognitive distortions related to sleep. Strategies to improve sleep quality and quantity include:

  • Establishing a consistent routine: Keeping to a consistent routine allows your body to begin to understand when it is time to sleep so that it can send the appropriate signals to allow you to wind down.
  • Promoting good sleep hygiene: This is a crucial step in insomnia management that includes going to bed at a reasonable time, keeping your sleeping area dark and calming, and limiting screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime. It is also important to limit your time in bed to just sleeping (do not lounge, eat, or watch TV in bed), so that your body can associate the environment with rest.
  • Relaxation techniques: Managing stress and anxiety is incredibly important, as it is difficult to sleep without a quiet mind. Although the best option is different for everyone, mindfulness exercise and progressive muscle relaxation are commonly used for this purpose.

By addressing the mental health aspects of insomnia, counselling can contribute to an overall enhancement of your well-being. Insomnia can seem like a relentless struggle with no end in sight, but rest assured that help is out there for those who are battling it. The counsellors at Horizon Plymouth would love to work with you on improving your mental state and sleeping habits in order to feel more rested and stronger to take on the days ahead of you. If you or someone you know are struggling with the effects of insomnia, don’t wait. Reach out to Horizon Plymouth to schedule your initial consultation today!