top of page

Insomnia and Sleep Disorders: Understanding, Causes and Treatment

Updated: Jan 31

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. It is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep, and it can lead to feelings of tiredness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating during the day. There are many potential causes of insomnia, including stress, anxiety, depression, physical pain, and certain medications.

How serious is Insomnia in UK adults?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects a significant percentage of adults in the UK. According to a survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, approximately one in three adults in the UK experiences difficulty sleeping at least a few times a week.

While insomnia can be a transient problem that resolves on its own, it can also be a chronic disorder that persists over time. Chronic insomnia can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, causing fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of accidents and injuries. It can also lead to physical and mental health problems, such as an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease.

It is important for those with insomnia to seek treatment in order to improve their sleep patterns and reduce the negative impacts on their health and well-being.

Here are just some of the reasons why some people don't get enough sleep.

  • Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can cause sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

  • Work and school: Long work hours or a busy school schedule can make it difficult to get enough sleep.

  • Technology: The use of electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep.

  • Poor sleep habits: Poor sleep habits, such as irregular sleep schedules or an uncomfortable sleep environment, can make it difficult to get enough sleep.

  • Health conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as sleep apnea or chronic pain, can disrupt sleep.

  • Medications: Some medications, such as stimulants or antidepressants, can disrupt sleep.

  • Alcohol and caffeine: Consuming alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime can disrupt sleep.

  • Age: As people age, they may experience changes in their sleep patterns and may have difficulty sleeping.

  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy can cause sleep problems due to physical discomfort and hormonal changes.

  • Shift work: Working irregular or overnight shifts can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to get enough sleep.

  • Sleep Apnoea: Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder characterized by periods of shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep. More on this further down.

So, what can we do to improve our sleep?

One of the most effective ways to improve sleep patterns for those suffering from insomnia is to establish a consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. It can also be helpful to create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

Does medication work for insomnia and can you become dependent on it?

Medications can be an effective treatment option for insomnia, particularly in the short term.

There are several types of medications that are commonly used to treat insomnia, including benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, and melatonin agonists. These medications work by helping to relax the body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep.

However, while medications can be effective at improving sleep patterns in the short term, they may not be a long-term solution for insomnia. In some cases, people may become dependent on these medications and may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking them.

Additionally, long-term use of some types of insomnia medications may be associated with side effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and impaired cognition.

For these reasons, it is generally recommended to use medications for insomnia only as a short-term solution, and to try other treatment options, such as lifestyle changes and behavioural therapies, as a first line of treatment. If medications are necessary, it is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate medication and to closely monitor for any potential side effects.

Self-Hypnosis and Meditation.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, there are several other techniques that may help improve sleep patterns for those with insomnia. One such technique is self-hypnosis, which involves entering a state of deep relaxation through guided visualization and suggestion. Self-hypnosis can be particularly effective for those with insomnia due to stress or anxiety, as it can help to calm the mind and promote relaxation. Our Downloadable session for Insomnia and Sleep Problems HERE is a great place to try it out.

Meditation is another technique that can be helpful for those with sleep disorders. There are many different types of meditation, but all involve focusing the mind on a specific object, thought, or activity to achieve a state of calm and clarity. Research has shown that meditation can help to reduce stress and improve sleep quality, making it an effective tool for those with insomnia. We have a Meditation session for Insomnia HERE if you want to try it out.

It's important to note that self-hypnosis and meditation should not be used as a replacement for medical treatment for insomnia. If you are experiencing chronic difficulty with sleep, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

How does using electronics such as smart phones at bedtime cause sleep problems?

  • The use of electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, at bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep for several reasons:

  • Blue light: The screens of electronic devices emit blue light, which can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Exposure to blue light at night can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

  • Stimulating content: Many electronic devices offer access to stimulating content, such as social media, games, or news, which can keep the brain active and make it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

  • Notifications: Electronic devices can produce notifications that can disrupt sleep by interrupting the sleep environment and causing the brain to become alert and awake.

  • Sleep environment: The use of electronics in the bedroom can disrupt the sleep environment by creating too much light or noise, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

  • It's important to establish good sleep habits and avoid the use of electronic devices close to bedtime in order to promote healthy sleep.

Alcohol and Insomnia.

Alcohol is a sedative, which means it can help you relax and fall asleep. However, alcohol can also disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to insomnia.

When you drink alcohol before bed, it can cause your body to become dependent on it in order to fall asleep. This can lead to problems sleeping when you don't have alcohol in your system.

In addition, alcohol can disrupt your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. It can cause you to wake up during the night or prevent you from reaching deep sleep. This can leave you feeling tired and groggy in the morning.

Heavy alcohol use can also lead to other more serious sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Sleep apnoea can cause you to wake up frequently during the night and can lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Overall, it is generally not a good idea to drink alcohol at bedtime or if you are experiencing insomnia.

Sleep Apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder characterized by periods of shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last for several seconds to minutes and can occur 30 or more times per hour. Sleep apnoea can be a serious health issue because it can disrupt your sleep and reduce the oxygen supply to your body.

There are three types of sleep apnoea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is caused by a physical blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.

  2. Central sleep apnoea (CSA) is caused by a failure of the brain to transmit the proper signals to the muscles to initiate breathing.

  3. Complex sleep apnoea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnoea, is a combination of the other two types.

There are several risk factors for sleep apnoea, including being overweight, having a large neck size, smoking, and having a family history of the disorder. People with sleep apnoea may snore loudly, wake up frequently to urinate, and feel tired or drowsy during the day.

There are several treatment options for sleep apnoea, including lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and sleeping on your side. Other treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which uses a machine to deliver air pressure through a mask to help keep the airway open, and surgery to remove excess tissue in the throat or repair structural abnormalities that are causing the blockage. More about CPAP HERE

It is important to see a doctor if you think you might have sleep apnoea. The disorder can be diagnosed through a sleep study, and treatment can help improve your sleep, increase your energy levels, and reduce your risk of other health problems.

In Conclusion.

In conclusion, insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can be helpful in improving sleep patterns.

I am Sharon Shinwell a UK qualified clinical hypnotherapist. I recently retired from my face-to-face hypnotherapy practice. However, I am able to continue to help individuals through my range of downloadable Self-Hypnosis sessions that address a variety of issues. With my extensive knowledge and experience in the field of hypnotherapy, I am able to provide effective solutions for those seeking to improve their mental and emotional well-being.

Here To Listen Ltd is the parent company of Self Hypnosis UK.

To access any of our downloadable Self-Hypnosis sessions. CLICK HERE

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."