Overview

The amount of sleep that is necessary for individuals varies, as does each person's fitness, and their physical and emotional expenditure during each day. It becomes obvious that you are not receiving the amount of sleep your body requires if you begin to experience adverse affects on your life.

Topic Videos

My Story - Sleeping Problems

In one of Tune In Not Out's 'My Story' series, this podcast shares the experience one girl has with sleeping problems - a issue that many of can relate too. This podcast hits a key fact that sleep is a necessity not an option.

  • Author: Interview by John. Edited by TINO Crew
  • Upload Date: 15/02/2010
Stories on this Topic

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Living a Balanced Life

A great blog taking a look at some simple takes we can put into place to keep life feeling balanced. Well worth a read.

Living a balanced life read now

  • Author: Xin
  • Upload Date: 2013-03-22

Part of our youth created blog series

Factsheet

Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

Trouble Sleeping and Insomnia

Some common causes for trouble sleeping

trouble sleepingMost people need between five to nine hours sleep a night to function. Often stress and anxiety can lead to sleeping problems. As the stressful situation passes a more regular sleep pattern is likely to return. Irregular sleep patterns can also be related to depression. If you have been feeling down for a couple of weeks and also been unable to sleep it may be advisable to speak to someone such as a local doctor.

Other things that may lead to sleeping problems include:

  • asthma and breathing disorders
  • during the third trimester of pregnancy sleep is also usually dramatically reduced
  • stimulants in the blood stream like caffeine and nicotine
  • some prescribed and over the counter drugs
  • some forms of the contraceptive pill
  • decongestants and pain and cold relievers
  • jet lag

Some of the effects of sleep difficulties

Problems getting to sleep, waking early or not being able to sleep throughout the night can effect your general well being.

Some effects may include:

  • decreased concentration levels
  • decreased energy levels
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty remembering things

Getting to sleep

Try to set routines and go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This helps your body clock get into rhythm and makes sleeping feel more natural. Avoid sleeping during the day, as it makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Process the day's thoughts and feelings and then let go of them. If it helps, write things down or talk about them with someone you trust.

Learning meditation is a very useful tool for stilling the mind and relaxing the body. It can be a very effective way to release tension and de-stress.

Other things you may want to consider are:

  • sleep in a well ventilated room. It doesn't want to be too hot or cold
  • avoid excessive exercise just before going to bed
  • drink warm milk or chamomile tea
  • avoid eating a heavy meal late in the evening
  • play soft gentle music. The heart actually follows the beat of the music so high-energy dance music revs you up, slower more peaceful music help you unwind.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia has been defined quite simply as "sleeplessness". But there is nothing simple about the inconvenience that insomnia causes in everyone's life at some point. No-one is completely certain why humans require sleep, but the fact that sleep deprivation has many serious impacts upon our lives demonstrates its importance.

The amount of sleep that is necessary for individuals varies, as does each person's fitness, and their physical and emotional expenditure during each day. It is approximated that most people require 7 hours sleep each night, with 8% satisfied with 5 hours or less and 4% requiring 10 hours or more. It depends entirely on the individual. It becomes obvious that you are not receiving the amount of sleep your body requires if you begin to experience adverse affects on your life.

What are some of the causes of insomnia?

Although causes may vary from individual to individual, some common causes include:

  • stress & anxiety
  • depression
  • trauma in your life (major or minor)
  • overeating just before bed
  • caffeine intake (coffee, chocolate, cola)
  • poor diet
  • lack of exercise
  • conditions that don't encourage sleep (noise)
  • concerns about work or school
  • concerns about daily living (money, violence, transport, job, relationships)
  • illness

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

The symptoms of insomnia can be extremely mild to serious. If symptoms of insomnia are affecting your ability to function effectively you will need to consider seeking help.

Some consequences of insomnia may include:

  • inability to sleep or waking frequently during the night
  • decreased problem solving skills
  • lowered mental alertness
  • drowsiness, falling asleep at every opportunity
  • inability to concentrate
  • decrease in efficiency
  • nervousness
  • irritability & anger
  • increased anxiety
  • feeling depressed or down
  • fatigue, lowered physical performance

What can I do to manage insomnia?

  • Implement routine: Try to go to bed & wake at the same time daily.
  • Limit the bed to sleeping: Try not to study, watch TV, read or eat in bed.
  • Exercise: Do some exercise during the day to induce tiredness.
  • Relax before bed: Have a warm bath, listen to soothing music, use deep breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi etc.
  • Avoid naps: Napping during the day may minimise your ability to sleep at night.
  • Minimise anxiety: Try not to tackle anything that may cause stress & anxiety just before bed time, or write down any worries you may have.
  • Avoid stimulants: Avoid having caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola) or cigarettes before bed. [NB: alcohol may make you drowsy but can disrupt sleeping patterns.]
  • Warm & soothing drinks: Warm chamomile or peppermint tea or a milk-based drink may help you sleep.
  • Lavender: Lavender is considered a natural sedative, so sprinkling some oil on your pillow may assist.
  • Natural Remedies: Valerian is considered a non-addictive, sleep-inducing herb that also assists in Relieving stress & anxiety. St John's Wort is another natural product which is used to treat anxiety, stress & insomnia. Both are available at supermarkets or your local pharmacy.
  • Medication: If your inability to sleep is disrupting your life, it is advisable to see your pharmacist or doctor. They may provide medication to assist in rectifying your disrupted sleeping patterns, but ensure you know about the drug before taking it. Many of these are addictive & cause periods of drowsiness upon waking, which may cause problems if you require alertness for work or school.
  • Other professionals: Your doctor may also treat or refer you to other professionals to address the causes of the insomnia.

Also check out our Blog: Living a balanced life which features some great tips for getting a good nights sleep.

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