Natural Insomnia Treatment In Brighton
Insomnia treated naturally in Brighton Sussex with therapist Laurel Alexander
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by an inability to sleep and/or inability to remain asleep for a reasonable period. Insomnia can be divided into two basic categories: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia:
Primary insomnia refers to a sleep disturbance that occurs without any specific underlying condition that causes the insomnia. Primary insomnia is largely due to learned maladaptive sleep patterns and represents the most common form of insomnia.
Secondary insomnia differs from primary insomnia in that a specific condition can be identified as the cause of the sleep problem and should be evaluated by a GP. Some examples of secondary insomnia are:
- Sleep-wake schedule or circadian rhythm disorders are sleep disorders caused by having sleep-wake schedules that do not match up with your natural sleep schedule. People who work the night shift may suffer from this problem.
- Insomnia due to medical conditions: Many common medical problems and the drugs that treat them can cause insomnia, including allergies, arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, Parkinson's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or hyperthyroidism. Physical discomfort (e.g. chronic pain) may also cause problems sleeping.
- Insomnia due to substance use or withdrawal: Many drugs and medications can cause sleep disturbances, either while taking them or while withdrawing from them. Alcohol, stimulants, sedatives, and even long-term use of sleep medications can cause insomnia.
- Insomnia due to an emotional problem: Insomnia can be a symptom of a number of emotional difficulties.
- Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder caused by difficulty breathing during sleep. Persistent, loud snoring and frequent long pauses in breathing during sleep, followed by choking or gasping for breath are the main signs of sleep apnea.
- Restless Legs Syndrome is a sleep disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations (creeping, burning, itching, pulling or tugging) in the legs or feet, occurring mostly in the evening and at night.
Steve is 55 and runs his own company. He came to me having a history of sleep problems, partially exacerbated by a wakeful child. He had been on the sleeping tablet zolpidem and diazepam for a while and was having distressing anxiety attacks as well as unpleasant physiological symptoms. Following a crisis, Steve’s medication was changed to mirtazapine (anti-depressant) and zopiclone. Steve wasn’t happy with being on medication and wanted to come off the tablets. We agreed (with the consent of his GP) that the best way of achieving this was to take both sleeping tablet and anti-depressant for a while. Over the next few months, we worked on a nutritional plan and cognitive behavioural interventions to help manage Steve’s anxiety and improve his sleeping patterns. The aim was for Steve to stabilise, using his “toolbox” of interventions and at an agreed point in time and with his GP’s knowledge, he would gradually come off the sleeping tablets. With regular support, Steve stabilized and was able to stop the sleeping tablets while still maintaining a good sleeping pattern. After a further period of stabilisation, Steve was able to stop the anti-depressants (with his GP’s knowledge) with little or no side-effects. He is now medication free, in control of his sleep patterns and has a greater self awareness which he uses on a daily basis.
The following treatments and self-care strategies which I offer may help you to manage insomnia:
- Sleep restriction and scheduling
- Nutritional therapy
- Stimulus control
- Relaxation training
- Cognitive behavioural interventions
- Sleep hygiene
Benefits of natural insomnia treatment may include:
- better sleep hygiene
- a balanced nutritional approach to your body’s needs
- useful techniques to manage wakefulness
- better relaxation
- more energy
IMPROVING ELAINE’S SLEEP
When I first met Elaine, she was suffering with chronic insomnia. She had regular nightmares, sweet cravings, was underweight, had thin hair, dry skin, was light sensitive, felt constantly chilly and was “wired and tired”. Regular night sweats would wake Elaine around 3am and she could rarely get back to sleep again. Several of Elaine’s symptoms could be related to adrenal fatigue and blood sugar levels. So I advised her to take an adrenal test to ascertain hormone function.
We explored cognitive/behavioural interventions to help her manage sleep preparation and times of wakefulness during the night. We talked about how faulty thinking e.g. I’ll never get to sleep again can lead to unhelpful behaviour e.g. staying awake. She agreed she wouldn’t clock watch and that she would get up if she was awake longer than an hour. I taught Elaine strategies for identifying and managing her faulty thinking.
When we next met, Elaine was getting back to sleep quicker during wakeful periods e.g. within 30 minutes rather than 2 hours. These wakeful periods were now happening only once a week instead of three times a week. Elaine was using imagery to manage external night noises and the nightmares were becoming less. The adrenal test results showed a hormone imbalance. To rectify this and balance blood sugar levels, we agreed a nutritional plan including herbs.
When we next met, Elaine was sleeping through the night to 5am 70% of the time. However, she was finding that she had an energy slump around 4pm in the afternoon. We managed this by adjusting when she took her herbal supplements.
When we next met, Elaine’s 4pm slump had gone. She
was eating properly and had less sweet cravings. Elaine was
more aware of her stress levels, what wound her up and was
allowing herself “down-time”. She was sleeping
through to 5am and when she woke up, she would use her cognitive
exercises and return to sleep again promptly. Her skin was
not so itchy and dry and the night sweats were much less.
Elaine realises that for her, a good night’s sleep
is about the right diet plus a realistic and positive attitude.
INSOMNIA HELPFUL LINKS
This content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your GP, consultant or other qualified healthcare provider with your questions regarding a medical condition