Insomnia

*PROFESSOR KEVIN MORGAN
DIRECTOR, SLEEP RESEARCH UNIT

Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep
or staying asleep,

despite adequate opportunities to sleep,

that renders the individual
dysfunctional the next day.

There are things that cause the insomnia
initially but the more important things

are the things that maintain
the insomnia.

I have been suffering from
insomnia most of my adult life.

*JANE MCGRATH
INSOMNIAC

I am sleeping probably
about between two and three hours.

The issue here is cognitive arousal.

There are some styles of thinking

that can be quite detrimental to the
smooth onset of an individual's sleep.

A racing mind.
Thoughts that you can't control.

Inability to switch off.

If your mind is full of things
and churning round,

it's gonna mean
that it'll probably take longer.

But I'm sort of finding but it's not
too bad now I know what to do

and how to cope with it.

One of the targets now we find
that very usefully helps people

who have chronic sleep problems is
targeting their thoughts

and encouraging them to contain, and to
some extent discipline, their thinking.

Try and make yourself calm down a bit
so you are feeling rested

and then usually you will find
that you can drift off better.

Sleeping tablets are very effective for
the treatment of short-term insomnias.

Their effect wears off
after several months of use

and the health service recommends

they are used for no more
than three to four weeks.

Cognitive behaviour therapy is quite
different from pharmacological therapy.

One of the main differences,
it's a talking therapy,

it's a therapy that requires you to
participate and co-operate in treatment.

We know from the evidence
that over 80% of people

who receive this kind of treatment
find it effective in the longer term.

Even before you go to see your doctor,

if you feel that your sleep is
becoming a problem,

there are some things you can consider
that actually might be helpful.

And the very first thing to consider is
the way you organise your sleep routine.

Routine means roughly doing the things

that are usually associated with
a good night's sleep repeatedly.

It means going to bed at
roughly the same time,

getting up at roughly the same time.

First thing in the morning
is the most important.

Get yourself refreshed, have a shower,
anything that gets you alert and awake.

At least that starts the day off well.

You would be very wise not to nap.

The reason you oughtn't to nap is
because if you don't nap,

you'll be more tired
when you go to bed the following evening

and the more likely to go to sleep.

If somebody suspects that they have a
sleep problem beyond the norm,

that their sleep problem is
becoming a difficulty for them.

The very first place they must go to is
their general practitioner.

Try be as specific as you can
about what, for you, is the problem

and then it might help if you point out
what would for you be an ideal solution.

Now I've got an idea of what to do
and I know there is help out there,

I am far more enthusiastic
and happy about the future.

For more information visit www.nhs.uk.