We spend a great deal of our lives sleeping. Infants sleep practically 24 hours a day. Small children take frequent naps. Youngsters and teenagers sleep about eight or nine hours each night, while most adults can make do with seven to eight hours, sometimes less. Many elderly people need fewer hours still, perhaps five to six, and also tend to be lighter sleepers.
It is during the first few stages of sleep that many people encounter some difficulty at some stage during their lives (30% ++). We lie awake thinking about going to sleep and become frustrated that we seem to be incapable of doing so. Hypnotherapy should be combined with cognitive and behavioural techniques to effect rapid change.
Sometimes when the emotional content of a dream exceeds our ability to process that information we may wake suddenly in the middle of a dream. Sometimes such dreams can reoccur night after night such that our sleep pattern is disrupted and we begin to expect to wake-up during specific dreams at specific times. This can be disrupt our sleep patterns dramatically. There are a number of highly effective therapeutic techniques such as EMDR to enable the processing such dreams to be completed.
Problems sleeping can mask underlying issues such as anxiety and or depression. It is also possible for sleep problems to result in anxiety and or depression. The priority for the therapist should be to tackle the sleep problem first and to see if this has a positive cascade effect on other presenting issues.
Why do elderly people sleep less?
Elderly people may not need to, or be able to sleep as much as younger people. This could be because they lead a relatively inactive lifestyle, or they may also be getting more sleep during the day.
What is insomnia?
The term insomnia refers to an inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep for an adequate length of time. This may causes chronic tiredness that badly affects your daily life.
This said, it is important to stress that virtually everybody has problems sleeping at some time or other. Stress, depression and worry are well known causes of insomnia. Illness is another possible cause, especially if there is pain or discomfort.
Good advice for people with insomnia
Exercise often helps you sleep, but avoid exercising shortly before you go to bed.
Write down your worries rather than fret about them while you're trying to sleep.
A warm bath before bed can help.
Try not to eat large meals before bedtime.
Drinking alcohol may also disturb your night's sleep, though a small night-cap can help you to fall asleep in the first place.
Cut down on drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea, cocoa, and cola), especially late at night.
Make sure you have a comfortable bed. The bedroom itself should be well ventilated and cool and as dark and quiet as possible.
Don't go to bed until you feel tired.
Sex just before bedtime can both promote and impede sleep. Men may sleep well after sex, whereas women may become more alert.
Read a book (but not in bed) until you feel drowsy. Get up again if you are not able to sleep within half an hour. Sit down, read the paper, listen to some music and go back to bed half an hour later.
Get up at the same time every morning. Set the alarm and get out of bed quickly, even if you have had a late or sleepless night. This way, at the end of the day you'll probably feel tired and sleepy at just the right time. If you do this for a sufficient number of days, you will successfully adjust your inner clock and get tired when you need to.
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Diagnostic and statistical manual criteria (DSM)