Insomnia is a common condition and as a result, many people are searching for treatments, remedies and tips. However, only a qualified expert is able to formally diagnose the condition, recommend and then provide treatment. This is where Manse Medical steps in. Our team of medical specialists can monitor, diagnose and provide treatment for the conditions that cause insomnia.
If you are struggling with insomnia, book an appointment at one of our sleep clinics and we will help you get a good night’s sleep.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is not a disease (this is a common misconception). Instead, it is a symptom characterised by:
- A general dissatisfaction with the sleep one’s having
- Difficulties falling and/or staying asleep
- Daytime tiredness
Different people need different amounts of sleep. For most people, a regular 8 hours is required. Some may only need 5 hours, while others need 10 or more.
What other types of insomnia are there?
As insomnia is a symptom, there are various forms of insomnia that can disrupt a person’s sleep, each with varying levels of intensity. Over a third of people experience one of these forms of insomnia, but not everyone with insomnia requires treatment.
Primary insomnia is characterised by sleep problems such as;
- Difficulty initiating sleep
- Difficulty maintaining sleep (awakening mid sleep or too early in the morning or difficulty returning to sleep)
- Chronic non restorative sleep (i.e. sleeping the full amount but not feeling refreshed)
A critical factor that identifies primary insomnia is that its effects are not associated with any existing medical conditions or lifestyle habits.
Secondary insomnia is similar to primary insomnia, in that it results in the inability for a person to get a satisfactory sleep. However, the key difference is the cause.
Secondary insomnia can be caused by;
- Health conditions (i.e. asthma, depression, anxiety, cancer, heartburn, etc.)
- Pain (i.e. chronic pain, arthritis, injury, etc.)
- Substances (i.e. certain medications, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, etc.)
Acute insomnia is a short-term form of insomnia, usually lasting from a few days to a few weeks. Causes for acute insomnia can include;
- Stress and physical discomfort
- Environmental factors (i.e. noise, light, temperature)
- An interference in typical sleep habits and cycles (i.e. night shift work, jet lag, young children)
Chronic insomnia is the polar opposite of acute insomnia, being a long term form of insomnia whose effects can last from a few months to a few years. Its causes include physical and mental factors such as:
- Long term stress
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Long term pain
How does Manse Medical treat insomnia?
Because insomnia is a symptom, not a disease, Manse Medical aims to treat the broader conditions that lead to insomnia. In order to do this; the sleep experts at Manse Medical conduct thorough consultations and sleep testing that identifies sleep conditions that can then be effectively treated.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
If you have some form of sleep apnoea, in which your sleep is constantly interrupted by cessations in your breathing, we have different kinds of treatments that can help. CPAP is the most successful, consisting of a machine and mask that provides a consistent flow of positive airway pressure. By helping you breathe better at night, it allows a more consolidated and restful sleep.
Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS)
This is another treatment for sleep apnoea, in which a mouthguard-like-device is worn while sleeping in order to further open up airways and provide a more constant flow of oxygen, resulting in uninterrupted sleep. Some considerations need to be made before choosing to treat sleep apnoea with a MAS, and these should be discussed with your sleep physician.
What about medication?
There is a range of medications that can make you feel sleepy. Many of these medications are addictive, and most of them work well in the short term, but less well in the longer term. Careful use of these medications can be an important part of the approach to helping someone with insomnia sleep well again. While we never prescribe medications as the only intervention at Manse Medical, they often form part of the management plan.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
The main treatment for insomnia is usually delivered by sleep psychologists. Manse Medical physicians regularly refer patients with insomnia for cognitive behavioural therapy with a sleep psychologist, which can be accessed either in-person or online, and then work alongside those sleep psychologists to help the individual learn how to sleep again.
What lifestyle adjustments can I make to improve my sleep hygiene in order to remedy short term insomnia?
If you are experiencing short term insomnia, you might not need to go to a sleep clinic. There are steps you can take in your everyday life to curb your short term insomnia and improve your sleep.
Avoiding naps during the day
Naps do have restorative benefits, and the stress of everyday life can make a nap seem very tempting at the time. However, excessive napping during the day can mess with your body’s internal clock, making it more difficult for you to go to sleep at night.
Avoiding smoking and drinking
Or, at the very least, cut down on smoking and drinking – particularly at night before bed. Drugs such as alcohol and nicotine have mind altering properties that can negatively affect a person’s ability to sleep.
- Alcohol reduces REM sleep, which is an important restorative sleep stage
- Nicotine is a stimulant, making it a guaranteed way to disrupt sleep
Avoiding tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks
Caffeine is also a powerful stimulant, which is why many people drink coffee to wake up in the morning. Therefore, you should avoid it at night, as it will disrupt your sleep.
Don’t exercise before bed
Exercise is great, but it also affects your heart rate and releases endorphins into your brain, which then makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Avoiding technology before bed
It’s good to avoid technology such as P.C’s, laptops and mobiles before bed. The light emitted from the screens of these devices can alter and even block melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone our brains produce in response to darkness and is what helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle (otherwise known as circadian rhythm or internal body clock). If using technology before bed, it is best to dim the screen as much as possible and enable or download a blue light filter.
Go to bed when you feel sleepy
Lying awake in bed certainly feels great, but it can result in you conditioning your body to stay awake when you’re in bed. Going to bed too early or before you begin to feel sleepy can also condition your body to associate bed with being awake. That’s why it’s recommended that you go to bed when you are actually tired, that way your brain associates your bed with being tired.
Limit your bedroom activities
If your brain associates your bedroom with activities such as watching television, eating or scrolling on your phone, it will become stimulated when you are in your bedroom. Try to limit your bedroom activities as much as possible so that your brain can associate your bedroom with sleep.
Go to another room if you can’t sleep
If you’re finding yourself unable to sleep in your bedroom, reading in bed or playing on a mobile phone will usually only stimulate you further and you will continue to associate bed with being awake.. Try moving to another room so you can relax yourself. Then, return to your bedroom once you start to feel sleepy.
Get up at the same time every day
Routine is important. If you consistently stick to a sleep routine, it will become ingrained in your brain, and easier to maintain.
Don’t overthink your sleep
Getting worked up over your sleeping habits will only cause you to worry, which will have an adverse effect on your sleeping. This is where pre-bed meditation can help, as it reduces stress.
How do I contact Manse Medical for Insomnia Treatment?
Manse Medical is a specialist sleep clinic with multiple locations. We aim to provide the highest level of care for patients with respiratory and sleep disorders.
Book your appointment online by selecting your preferred clinic and choose from the list of our available specialists.