Sleep therapy

Sleep is vital to maintain optimal psychological and physical health. Sleep therapy helps with identifying problems that may be unaddressed that are contributing to lack of sleep, as it can commonly be a symptom of other psychological problems.

Sometimes when we are experiencing difficulties or feel overwhelmed and busy during the day, the mind finds it hard to settle and tries to alert your attention to your unresolved problems when you are not distracted and in bed. The resulting disturbance in sleep can then develop into its’ own problem with accompanying poor concentration and mood, contributing to a vicious cycle of distress and poor health.

Sleep therapy may be used if someone is suffering from a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. 

What happens in sleep therapy?

Sleep therapy usually involves gaining an understanding of the physiological aspects of sleep. Working with a trained therapist, the patient will learn skills and techniques to promote better sleep, leading the patient to start to adjust their patterns, thoughts and behaviours. 

Sleep therapy usually involves exploring two main components:

  • Environmental and behavioural factors: Some of which are intuitive things we do when not sleeping that can actually prolong or intensify the sleep problem. These include: catching up on sleep during the day, going to bed too early, overuse of stimulants such as caffeine, as well as many others that will be explained to you. We often do not have the most appropriate sleep conditions or patterns that help the mind and body wind down. Your therapist will help assess areas that can be improved in your sleep environment and routine.
  • Other factors: There are common types of thinking distortions around poor sleep that need exploring as they contribute to anxiety that can develop as the problem gets worse. These natural but unhelpful thoughts are a major maintain factor in sleep disorders and your therapist will help you approach your sleep difficulty in a less catastrophic way.

Throughout a number of approaches, the patient will achieve a healthier sleep pattern, perhaps even alleviating the need for sleeping tablets.

Sleep therapy at Nightingale Hospital London

At Nightingale Hospital sleep therapy treatment can be accessed in an individual or group setting as part of an outpatient, day patient or inpatient programme in London. To understand the most suitable for your needs and personal circumstances our team would welcome your call.

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How can you improve your sleep?

Below is a list of a few things that may help you before you see your sleep specialist:

  • Try and start a routine

Parents usually understand how important it is for children to have a sleep routine, however, it’s highly beneficial for adults to have one too. Tips for trying to implement a routine include: Getting up at the same time each day (including weekends) and go to bed when you are sleepy rather than too early. If someone lies in bed awake, they may associate their sleeping environment with distress, which could exacerbate sleeplessness. 

  • Be mindful of light

Bright lights are not conducive to sleep. This is especially true of technological devices that emit blue light, such as mobiles, tablets and TV screens. Blue light, and lights in general, are associated with light in the atmosphere from the sun early in the day. This is designed to trigger our bodies to be awake. As the light changes in the evening, blue shades are reduced. This is part of the process that helps trigger the release of natural sleep hormones. Many modern phones have a night mode which will remove the blue light, which is helpful to some extent. Try and opt for dim lighting or safety so, candlelight, in your home in the evening.

  • Have an end to your day

Modern times and work patterns allow us to work 24 hours a day, from our telephones and laptops, from wherever we are – including in bed. It is hard to expect the brain to wind down and know that it is safe to go to sleep if, after winding down, we decide to throw open a laptop and start responding to emails. Have a cut-off time where you stop working and try if possible to develop a routine to prepare for bed, for example, laying out clothes for the next day or engaging in a self-care routine. 

Useful resources

“When you have a problem and you drink, take drugs or gamble, the problem won’t go away. Stay and tackle the problem”
#TherapistTipoftheWeek