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Sleep Difficulties

By the time you seek help for insomnia you probably know a lot about sleep.
Sleep is produced by sub cortical brain mechanisms and reflects the interaction of three processes; the body’s requirement for deeper quieter Non Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (NREM) sleep, intermittent need for physiologically active and cognitively stimulating (REM) sleep and a fluctuating tendency to wake.
The result is sleep stages occurring every ninety minutes with deeper wave sleep taking prominence in initial cycles and REM sleep later in the night.
There are two opposing systems the Sleep Drive and the Alerting Force.
The key is how to catch the sleep ‘wave’ and gain an understanding of how sleep and wakefulness interact.
There are three main categories of insomnia. They are difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and difficulty achieving sleep that is deep and refreshing.
Clinical Psychologists’ Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman (their book ‘The Insomnia Answer’) suggest three distinct factors that account for the onset and course of insomnia. 1. Predisposing factors e.g. individual differences in physical and cognitive hyperarousal, anxiety, and depression 2. Precipitating events e.g. changes in routine, ongoing pain, grief and 3. Perpetuating attitudes and practises e.g. too much time in bed, using naps and stimulants to counter sleep loss, and counterproductive beliefs.
So intervention includes an assessment of the symptoms and addressing the factors that contribute to the insomnia.
This includes monitoring your sleep pattern and sleep waves and trialling sleep hygiene approaches  e.g. avoiding going to bed until drowsy, avoid exercise late evening, limit fluid intake before bed, etc.
There are ranges of psychological self-management approaches that are helpful e.g. relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and cognitive techniques e.g. setting aside time for worry etc.
  • Unit 10, 35 Riccarton Road
    Christchurch 8011
    New Zealand

    Phone: (03) 348 5595