Treatments for sleeping issues

Having ongoing sleeping issues is disruptive to everyday life and puts you at risk of developing long term health issues. If you have sleeping issues, there are a range of treatments you can try which can help you overcome the problem. If your treatment plan isn’t working, it’s important to go back to your doctor and try something else.

This can help if:

  • You’re having trouble sleeping
  • You’re feeling anxious
  • You want info on different treatments for sleeping issues

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Why treatment for sleeping issues is important

There are lots of different kinds of sleeping issues, but they’re all really frustrating and can have negative impacts on your everyday life. Get some more info on what having trouble sleeping involves.

The longer a sleeping issue goes on untreated, the worse the impact on how well you’re able to function in day to day life. Ongoing sleeping problems can also have a bad impact on your physical health. Untreated sleeping problems can sometimes lead to other health problems like high blood pressure or diabetes, so it’s worth treating sleeping problems sooner rather than later. The good news is there are heaps of different ways you can tackle sleeping problems. 

Treatments for sleeping issues

If you have an ongoing sleeping issue, it’s recommended that you undertake psychological therapy to treat and manage your symptoms. There are a range of different types of psychological therapies, outlined below, which can be used to treat sleeping problems. In some circumstances, medication is also used as a short term solution to sleeplessness, however it isn’t recommended for longer than a few weeks. 

Psychological Therapies

There are a range of psychological treatments used to help people overcome sleeping issues, depending on the cause of your sleeping issue. It’s important to work with a health professional to figure out a method of treatment that works for you. Types of therapies used to treat sleeping issues include:
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (aka CBT). CBT is a way of changing unhelpful ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that can cause you to feel tense or anxious and prevent you from getting to sleep.

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This is a therapy that helps you to relax your breathing and muscles deeply. See the progressive muscle relaxation fact sheet for more info on how it works.

  • Sleep hygiene. This involves learning positive sleeping habits.

  • Stimulus control. This helps to change how you associate certain activities with your bed, so avoiding things in bed which cause you to be more awake, such as watching TV, doing work, reading, or worrying, and limiting the use of your bed to sleep. 

  • Sleep restriction. Spending too much time in bed can cause you to have issues sleeping. Sleep restriction helps you go to bed earlier and get up earlier so that you’re asleep for 8-9 hours in the normal sleeping part of the night.

Medication

A type of sedative drug known as a benzodiazepine is often used to treat sleeping issues. This medication works by reducing activity in certain parts of the brain, which has a calming effect on the person taking them. In the past, sleeping tablets were used very commonly to treat ongoing sleeping issues, but more recent evidence has shown them to be a less effective and higher risk form of treatment. Some limitations that exist with the ongoing use of sleeping tablets include that they:
  • Only work for 3-4 hours depending on the dosage
  • Are less effective over time due to tolerance (meaning you need to take higher doses to get the same effect)
  • Can be addictive
  • Can have a negative impact on your mood and energy levels
However, they’re ordinarily  safe and effective if they’re used as directed and for short periods of time (less than 2 weeks). Sleeping tablets can be particularly effective in circumstances where a person is suffering from such a high level of distress that they are unable to sleep at all. 

Sleeping tablets must be prescribed by a doctor and their use needs to be closely monitored. 

If you’re still having sleeping issues

If you’ve been undergoing treatment for ongoing sleeping issues, and you’re still having trouble with your sleep, it’s a good idea to go and visit the health professionals in charge of your treatment plan. They’ll be able to work with you to decide whether you need to alter your treatment plan or try alternative treatment. 

In the meantime, you can check out some more tips and info on how to improve your sleep.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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