Ongoing sleeping problems are disruptive to everyday life and may put you at risk of developing long-term health issues. If you have trouble sleeping, there are a range of treatments you can try to help you overcome the problem.
This can help if:
- you’re having trouble sleeping
- you feel anxious about going to bed
- you want info on different treatments for sleeping issues.
Why is treatment important?
The longer a sleeping issue goes untreated, the more difficulty you’ll have functioning in your day-to-day life. Untreated sleeping problems can sometimes lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, so it’s important to treat them sooner rather than later. The good news is that there are heaps of ways to tackle your sleeping problems.
What are the treatment options?
If you’ve tried to improve your sleep on your own and nothing’s working, there are a range of treatments to help you overcome your sleeping issues:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on changing unhelpful ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that cause you to feel tense or anxious and prevent you from falling asleep or sleeping well.
Progressive muscle relaxation. This therapy aims to help you relax your body and mind through deep breathing and muscle activation. Check out our progressive muscle relaxation factsheet for more info.
Sleep hygiene involves developing positive sleeping habits.
Stimulus control helps to change your associations of certain activities with your bed. The aim is to avoid doing things in bed that cause you to be more awake, such as watching TV, doing work, reading or worrying.
Sleep restriction focuses on creating a sleep schedule so that you sleep for eight to nine hours during the normal sleeping part of the night.
Medication. As a last resort, your GP may prescribe medication to help you sleep better. Benzodiazepine is a common sedative that slows down the activity of the central nervous system and produces a calming effect. However, benzodiazepines have limitations and risks:
- They usually only work for three to four hours, depending on the dosage.
- They become less effective over time due to tolerance (meaning you need to take higher doses to get the same effect).
- Prolonged use can be very addictive.
- They can have a negative impact on your mood and energy levels.
Sleep medications are generally safe and effective when taken as directed by your GP and for short periods of time (less than two weeks).