sleep disturbance

Having a good night’s sleep is hugely important for providing our minds and bodies with a chance to relax, unwind and rejuvenate.  While almost all of us have trouble sleeping from time to time, some people experience this more regularly; for example, having difficulty getting to, or staying asleep, waking up frequently, or feeling reliant on sleep medication to achieve a full night of rest.

Sleep disturbance can massively affect daily functioning.  Concentrating on everyday tasks and remembering what needs to be done, when, can feel more challenging.  It can be more difficult to regulate emotions, and this increases susceptibility for irritability, stress, anxiety and low mood.  Worry about not sleeping can also take its toll.

What causes sleep disturbance?

Causes of sleep problems vary from person to person.  There can be direct or indirect physical causes, such as respiratory problems that affect breathing when lying down, or neurological conditions that affect sleep regulation.  Alternatively, there may be environmental considerations, such as sleeping somewhere noisy or too brightly lit, or sharing a room with someone who snores.  Mental health and emotional wellbeing can also impact on sleep; for example, it might seem difficult to shake off anxious thoughts and worries, or low mood might make it feel especially hard to get up in the morning.

What can help?

A range of strategies can improve the quality and quantity of sleep.  Mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy have both been shown to be effective in the treatment of sleep difficulties, as well as commonly co-occurring problems, such as stress, anxiety and low mood.