Insomnia

The first thing to say is that sleep difficulties are really common. Although we will all suffer from a sleepless night once in a while, it's likely that as many as one in three adults in the UK is struggling with their sleep at any one time.

Although we might be able to deal with trouble nodding off once every so often, when this is something that we have to deal with most nights, its effects can be much harder to ignore. This is particularly the case when poor sleep starts to impact our mood, energy levels and our day-to-day activities. It can then start to disrupt our relationships, work and our social lives, making it even harder to manage longer-term. 

Long-term difficulty falling or staying asleep - that's also having a negative effect on your ability to get by during the day - is known as insomnia. It is surprisingly common and estimates suggest that as many as one in ten adults in the UK probably meet diagnostic criteria. 


Why does it happen?

It often starts as little more than a short period of sleeplessness brought on by some stressful life event. However, before long we may naturally start to become anxious about not sleeping and will probably change our routine to try to better manage the situation. A common example of this is people going to bed unusually early to try and 'catch up' on their sleep, only to find themselves lying awake for hours and feeling even more fed-up. 

The painful irony is that these adaptations to our behaviour can sometimes mean that our sleeplessness doesn't resolve itself, leaving us exhausted, depleted and stuck. To top it off, people who struggle with their sleep often report that they can be plagued with lots of negative thoughts about the effects of poor sleep. Thoughts like, “I’m just not going to be able to cope tomorrow” or “I’m so tired I can’t even think straight” are common examples. These kinds of thoughts put us into a near-constant state of being on edge and “sleep triggered” that makes it even more difficult to relax and sleep.

What can I do?

The good news is that there's a treatment that works! At Sleep Well Oxford, we use Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), an evidence-based approach designed specifically for treating sleep problems and that is recommended as the first-line treatment in international clinical guidelines, including those used by the NHS. CBT-I is a brief therapist-delivered course of treatment that can be done online and that is strongly supported by the most rigorous clinical research trials, Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs). It aims to address unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about sleep, the challenging emotional fallout of poor sleep and the behaviours that might be keeping the situation stuck.

You can read more about what to expect from your course of therapy here. 

The great thing about Sleep Well Oxford’s approach is that you’re given the tools you need to get back to sleeping well, with the guidance and support of a clinical expert and committed therapist. Once you’ve done the course, which is done in the comfort of your own home via Skype, you can always continue to use the tools yourself or simply get in touch again for free ongoing support.

Why not get in touch to find out about how Sleep Well Oxford can help you get back to Sleeping Well.

Behavioural Sleep Medicine

 

Although insomnia is probably the most common sleep problem that people experience, it's not the only sleep disorder. In fact, when people are struggling with another sleep disorder, such as Circadian Rhythm Disorders, Restless Legs Syndrome or even Non-REM parasomnias such as confusional arousals or sleep-walking, insomnia may also be part of the picture. 

There is a growing evidence-base for the usefulness of what is known as Behavioural Sleep Medicine (BSM) approaches to the management and treatment of many of these sleeping problems. These approaches focus both on the behavioural elements of the difficulties (e.g. what we’re doing during the day and night that might be contributing to the problem) and on the cognitive and emotional elements of the problem too (e.g. such as how daytime anxiety may be affecting the problem).

Here at Sleep Well Oxford, we’ll use our expertise in Sleep and Sleep Disorders to help you make sense of what’s going on for you and get you back to sleeping well. 

If you're unsure of whether we can help, drop us an email and we'll give you an honest answer.  

 

Training for you and your team

 

Behavioural Sleep Medicine is an area of increasing interest among health professionals, not least because of the degree to which sleep has been shown to impact upon a number of other physical and mental health problems.

Training in Behavioural Sleep Medicine, particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) can take lots of different forms depending on the audience. Why not get in touch to see if we can help design the kind of training that you and your team are looking for. 

 

When Sleep is Not the Issue

 

People with sleep difficulties will very often find that their problems with sleep spill out into other areas of their life and emotional wellbeing.

We consider working on this very much part of the work that we do.

It is also very common for insomnia and mental health difficulties to exist alongside one another. In these cases, clinical guidance suggests that insomnia should be treated in it’s own right, rather than simply as a symptom of whatever else is going on. In cases like this, we will take time to plan the treatment and tailor it to your specific needs.

However, when sleep isn’t an issue and if you or a loved one is experiencing mental health difficulties outside the realm of sleep medicine, we are delighted to be able to recommend our colleagues at Psychology Oxford. Dr Patrick Kennedy-Williams and his team specialise in the psychological treatment of anxiety and depression as well as other mental health difficulties. They see both children and their families, as well as adults and are located in the heart of Oxford.