Temporary sleeping problems are a normal stress reaction. Perhaps counterintuitively, many of the things we do to 'try to get more sleep' actually can make sleeping problems worse over time. This can result in a sleeping problem that outlives the stress that started it. 

Tracy Hannigan, the Sleep Expert

Tracy Hannigan, the Sleep Expert

Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia has over 30 years of evidence behind it, making it the number one suggested approach to treating chronic insomnia by leading medical and sleep associations. If you have insomnia or would like to avoid it in future, you can apply these seven evidence-based concepts consistently and find yourself sleeping better!

  1. Create the right relationship with your bed.  Before sleeping troubles set in, the bed is associated with sleep and sleepiness. After sleeping troubles set in, people lay in bed awake 'hoping for sleep', going to bed early, sleeping in, and tossing and turning. The bed then becomes associated with wakefulness, worry and frustration. Reverse this by only being in bed when you are sleeping.
  2. Get up at the same time of day (every day) until your sleep sorts out.   Getting up at the same time lets your body build 'sleep pressure' consistently and keeps your sleep rhythms consistent. Do this even if you have had a poor sleep the night before.
  3. Get more active!  Activity and wakefulness are the only things that build sleep pressure. Being more active can help you fall asleep and stay asleep (in conjunction with always getting up at the same time). Also - avoid naps for the same reason. Naps take a dent out of your sleep drive, so they should only be taken for safety reasons.
  4. Don't go to bed when you are tired. Only go to bed when you are sleepy. Associate those sleepy feelings with bed by avoiding 'going to bed early to 'try and get more sleep'. Staying up a bit later also helps build more of that sleep pressure!
  5. If you wake in the night and don't fall back to sleep quickly, get out of bed.  This helps avoid 'training wakefulness' to the bed by taking wakeful energy elsewhere. Do something relaxing and calm. Then, when you get sleepy again, go back to bed. Suppose you find you wake up again when you get back in bed. This only means that you're trained to be awake in bed - you can rewire that association in time by being consistent with this approach.
  6. Deal with worries in the middle of the day, not at the end.  Make a list of things you're worried about, and delegate 15 minutes to plan the next steps for 'to dos' or just to let yourself think. Do this early in the day. The time before sleep should be for relaxing and doing something you enjoy.
  7. Plan the next day before dinnertime.  Try planning out your next day before dinner and putting it all on paper. This 'reassures' your worried brain that it doesn't need to remind you all night - it's all written and ready to go.

Tracy Hannigan is one of the UK's leading sleep coaches and insomnia experts.  She uses her background in psychology and her experience as a healthcare professional alongside her CBTI training to help people reclaim their sleep so they can live the active and vibrant lives they want and deserve. She has also had insomnia herself and has personal experience using the evidence-based approaches she uses to help others sort their sleeplessness.  



RELATED: What does it mean to dream about sleeping?

You are comfortable with a decision you have just made and are able to sleep with a clear conscience. You are satisfied with your choices. More negatively, it could mean that you are ignorant to the feelings and situations around you. Perhaps you are not aware or have been informed about something. It’s possible you have but you don’t want to get involved or you no longer care about it...

Tagged in