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Problems with Insomnia

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Sleep is as essential to us as food, air and water. Sometime in your life you may have difficulty sleeping - many people do. Anyone can suffer from insomnia, although sleeping problems are more common among women (especially menopausal), the ill, the elderly, smokers, and alcoholics. Sleep problems are, however, surprisingly common among young people. While it is not an illness and is in no way life-threatening, insomnia can be very distressing, frustrating, exhausting, depressing and at worst it can make you feel like you're going crazy.

 Types of Insomnia

 There are two broad categories:

Within these broad categories insomnia usually takes one or more of the following forms:

Common Symptoms

 If you …

..Then you are probably suffering from insomnia.

 Main Causes

 Insomnia is a condition that is caused by something else! Sometimes it won't be immediately obvious what the causes are in your own case, but the following list might give clues:

Some causes of insomnia can't be easily dealt with but most can.

 What Can You Do about Insomnia?

 A great deal. The good news about insomnia is that you can cure yourself ; in your own way, in your own time and at your own pace. You may wish to enlist the support or help of your doctor, a college nurse or a counsellor, but you won't necessarily need to. However you must be prepared to make some changes in your lifestyle in order to sleep better.

Things You Can Do to Help Yourself
Change Your Environment

 You need a comfortable bed and a room that's quiet, warm and dark enough. Unfortunately this is not always be possible. You might have noisy neighbours, a cold north-facing room, a partner who snores, furniture you have to make do with. But there are some things you can do which will help.

Your bed - put a board under the mattress if it sags, or try putting your bed in a different position. Make sure your bedding is clean and that you are warm enough, but not too hot.

Light - if light troubles you use thicker curtains or putting a scarf or a sleep mask over your eyes. If you feel more comfortable with a little light, leave the curtains open a little or use a night light.

Noise - a common cause of sleeplessness! Use earplugs if it's noise you can't do anything about; or change your attitude towards it. People can sleep through high levels of noise; it's not so much the level of noise but how you feel about it that keeps you awake. Use relaxation exercises to calm yourself and take your mind off it. Take some “diplomatic action” ; e.g. talking to noisy neighbours. Keep a radio/tape player by your bed and use it to mask other noise. And if noise from neighbours continues to be a serious problem then speak to the local Environmental Health Officer.

Change Your Lifestyle

If you are having difficulty sleeping and are serious about solving the problem you will have to change some aspects of your lifestyle. For a start you will need to cut out or cut down on all stimulants. These include: coffee and tea, alcohol, nicotine, cola drinks, food additives, “junk food”, slimming pills or appetite suppressants.


Here are a number of other suggestions:

Some things to avoid:

You won't need to do all of these. Decide which would be most helpful and start with those. If that doesn't help, try others until you are sleeping better. Your aim is to break the cycle of insomnia. You achieve this by establishing a good bedtime/sleep routine and by reinforcing the connection between bed and sleep.


Research suggests that people with sleeping difficulties tend to be more worried, depressed, unhappy and anxious than others, although apparently cheerful, calm and confident people can also suffer from insomnia. If you are stressed or anxious here are a few suggestions:

Click Here to Take a Look at the Relaxation Page on This Website

Self Confidence

Research also suggests that people who suffer from insomnia tend to be less confident and have lower self esteem than others. Therefore anything that you can do to increase your confidence or improve your self esteem is likely to help you sleep better. Once again there are very many self-help books available, or you may prefer to consult a counsellor.

Click Here to Take a Look at the Self Esteem Page on This Website


If you have been suffering from insomnia for some time you may be depressed. Signs to look out for are:

If you are depressed it makes sense to seek some help.

Click Here to Take a Look at the Depression Page on This Website

Food and drink

There are some foods and drink which interfere with sleep, particularly if taken just before bed e.g. very rich foods and alcohol. It's therefore wise to avoid or cut down on these before sleeping. On the other hand, there are some foods that are thought to aid sleep. Here are some suggestions:

Sleeping Pills

 If you are wondering about taking medication to help you sleep, speak to your doctor. It is also advisable to consult your doctor if you are already taking medication and are concerned about the side-effects or are thinking of stopping.

Alcohol and Sleep

Alcohol is more disruptive to sleep than caffeine! Your body will produce adrenaline to compensate for the alcohol in your system. Alcohol also makes you thirsty. Both cause you to sleep fitfully or to wake. You don't have to give up alcohol altogether but in the interests of solving the problem of sleeplessness and establishing a healthy sleeping pattern, why not think about cutting down; perhaps by not drinking late at night or by deciding to have a number of alcohol-free days a week.


If you are concerned about the amount you are drinking or think you might have an alcohol problem, speak to your doctor, or a counsellor.

Click Here to Take a Look at the Alcohol Problems Page on This Website

Anger and Sleep

“Bottled up” anger could be the underlying cause of your sleeplessness. If this is true for you:

Much of the above applies to other feelings, although anger can be particularly troublesome.

 Click Here to Take a Look at the Anger Problems Page on This Website

Mental games to help you sleep


There seem to be two schools of thought on this subject; those who believe that mental games can send you to sleep and those who believe that they stimulate your mind and keep you awake!


If you think they might help you, here are a few examples:


Word games

Imagination games

And yes, if all else fails, you can always count sheep!

Getting additional help

 The focus of this web page has been self-help. You may, however, feel that you need some help in dealing with your sleeping problem. Insomnia is not a trivial matter. It can be debilitating and, once established, it can be difficult to shift.

Please Contact Me for Professional Help to End Your Sleeping Problems.

1996 Mindscape Limited

Designed By David Lloyd-Hoare Bsc(Hons) MBACP(Accred) INLPTA

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