Sleeping Problems: What They Are, How They Manifest Themselves and Some Tips – iPractice
Reviewed by our psychologist : Carlos Hoogenboom
Everyone has been there: Staring at the ceiling for hours and hours, hoping you’ll eventually fall asleep. An occasional bad night isn’t such a big deal, but consistently poor sleep can lead to low energy, poor concentration, and issues regulating your mood. You also have an increased chance of developing depression or gaining weight. Ready to start improving your sleep? Read on to learn more about sleeping problems and get advice from our psychologists.
In this article:
- The functions of sleep
- A regular sleeping pattern
- How much sleep do you need?
- Different types of sleeping problems
- Causes of sleeping problems
- Different ways to sleep better
- Treatment options for sleeping problems
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The functions of sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep and having a healthy sleeping pattern are essential for your body. On both a physical and a mental level, your body needs sleep to recover. You need to process everything you experienced throughout the day and your muscles need to relax. While you’re sleeping, new cells and antibodies are also created. Sleep has three functions:
- Physical recovery: For the muscles you’ve exerted
- Cognitive recovery: Processing information, memory and concentration
- Recharging emotional batteries: Mood, irritability
A regular sleeping pattern
There are a number of prerequisites for having what is classed as a ‘regular sleeping pattern’. For example, it’s important to always go to bed and get up again at around the same time. Obviously, it’s not going to do much harm if you go for the occasional night out, or have to work a graveyard shift at work. But chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a range of (health) problems. The following factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether your sleeping pattern is classed as regular:
- How many hours sleep you get at night and how long it takes you to fall asleep. This is an average of 6 to 10 hours, but it varies from person to person.
- It’s normal to wake up sometimes (briefly) during the night. Especially early in the morning.
- If you sleep badly every now and then, it doesn’t affect your overall sleeping pattern.
- Depending on your age, you need more or less sleep. You also sleep less deeply as you age.
How much sleep do you need?
The number of hours sleep that you need depends on a range of factors. This includes the work that you do, how active you are at work and during the day, and whether you exercise (a lot). Age also plays a role here.
Average number of hours sleep per age:
- < 1 year: 15 to 17 hours sleep
- 2 years: 14 hours sleep
- 3-4 years: 12 hours sleep
- 5-8 years: 11 hours sleep
- 9-12 years: 10 hours sleep
- 13-16 years: 9 hours sleep
- 17-18 years: 8 hours sleep
- 18> years: 7.5 to 8 hours sleep
Different types of sleeping problems
No two sleeping problems are the same. While some people will stare at the ceiling for hours, unable to get to sleep, others wake up more frequently throughout the night. And if you suffer from restless leg syndrome, your chances of falling asleep or sleeping through the night are significantly reduced. A list of sleeping problems:
- Insomnia: Not being able to fall or stay asleep.
- Hypersomnia: Sleeping too much at night, but also being sleepy during the day and struggling to stay awake.
- Sleep apnea: You easily fall asleep during the day and at night you snore loudly. While you’re sleeping, your breathing stops for 10 seconds or longer, meaning you can’t easily fall into a deep sleep and you’re extremely tired during the day.
- Narcolepsy: You suddenly fall asleep or experience abrupt loss of muscle control. This is triggered by sudden emotions, for example if something makes you jump. Fortunately, narcolepsy is rare and can be controlled with medication and the right lifestyle.
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) : You constantly feel like you have to move your legs (or other body parts) making it very difficult to fall asleep or sleep through the night.
- Parasomnia: Sleep walking, nightmares, teeth grinding or talking in your sleep.
- Pavor Nocturnus: Also known as ‘night terrors’, you wake in the night with symptoms of an anxiety attack without a trigger, such as a nightmare or a loud noise.
- Sleeping problems caused by psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety or physical symptoms, such as pain and itching.
A sleeping problem doesn’t necessarily need to have a specific cause. Sometimes there’s a combination of factors. Fortunately, there are various things you can try to improve your sleep.
Causes of sleeping problems
There are lots of possible explanations for sleeping problems. Just as there are many different sleeping problems, the range of causes is also very diverse. Depression or anxiety disorder can cause you to wake up more often during the night or stop you from falling asleep altogether. But tension, stress or physical symptoms can also be the culprits of your sleeping problems. Click here to learn more about possible causes and what you can do about them.
Different ways to sleep better
Are you suffering from a sleeping problem and would you like to know what to do about it? Developing good sleep hygiene can help you to manage your sleeping problem. For example, make sure that you’re going to bed around the same time every night and also that you’re getting up at the same time each morning. You’ll sleep better in a cool, dark room and you should also try not to nap throughout the day. Click here to read more sleep hygiene tips.
Treatment options for sleeping problems
Have you tried everything and are you still struggling to get rid of your sleeping problem? A psychologist can help figure out if you’re suffering from a sleep disorder. Treatment may include:
- Tracking your sleep
- Evaluating your sleep hygiene and advising how you can improve your sleep hygiene
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to discover if your thoughts are disrupting your sleeping pattern
- Sleep restriction may help to eliminate unnecessary hours of wakefulness from your sleep routine
Would you like some help overcoming your sleeping problems? Why not make an appointment with one of our psychologists? They offer various treatment methods that can help you to sleep soundly again and start your day feeling well-rested.
Do you have any questions about sleeping problems and how you can treat them? Call us on +3120 214 3004.