Last week there was a considerable amount of newspaper inches and media output dedicated to the release of information about the fact that 1 in 10 of us in the UK regularly take a drug to help us to get a good nights sleep. The Guardian Newspaper ran the story on 20th August. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/aug/20/sleeping-pills-britains-hidden-addiction)
It was probably not a coincidence that The Economic and Social Research Council had just published an article which gave details of a new training programme, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi), which has been developed to help people of all ages who suffer from sleep disorder. You can read more about the research and the training programme here: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/press-releases/22439/carousel-trained-nhs-therapists-can-help-insomniacs.aspx
This is great news and shows that at last serious thought is being given to looking at the long term effects as well as effectiveness of drug therapy for insomnia and also to alternative and complementary treatments.
For those of us who have been trained in Hypnotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or how to integrate the two, we have known for some time that these interventions can be extremely effective both for those patients for whom getting to sleep can be a challenge and for those who wake during the night and are unable to get back to sleep.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works by helping people have a better relationship with sleep. What this means is that patients are taught techniques for improving sleep such as only going to bed when they are tired, avoiding bedtime activities such as watching TV or using a computer in bed, and getting up at the same time each morning regardless of how much sleep they have had.
It also teaches them how their own beliefs and demands can disrupt sleep and how to change those beliefs. For example a belief that unless one has 8 hours of sleep one will be incapable of functioning the next day and therefore will not be able to do one’s job which might result in being fired could produce sufficient anxiety to produce insomnia.
Hypnotherapy, either combined with a CBT approach or own its own can also be very beneficial in helping overcome sleep disorder. A hypnotherapist can give direct hypnotic suggestions to the subconscious mind for deep, healthy and refreshing sleep and teach self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques which can be used by the patient to help themselves get a good nights sleep.
Other interventions might include analytical techniques such as Parts therapy (to talk to the part of the patient which is responsible for keeping you awake) or possibly regression.
So if you are having problems sleeping, there might be some other options to consider.