If you regularly have trouble sleeping, and you do not have a Physical Sleeping Disorder,
you are probably suffering from the sleeping disorder of insomnia. More than 2 million people in
Australia, and more than 30 million people in the USA, regularly have trouble
sleeping. If you suffer from the sleeping disorder of insomnia, it is likely that you often feel
tired during the day. You may also have difficulty concentrating, you may
become irritable, and personal relationships may suffer. In general, it is
very difficult to enjoy your life when you are not getting as much deep
restorative sleep as you need. Some of the main types of insomnia are as follows.
Trouble falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia)
There is nothing worse than lying in bed tossing and turning, hour
after hour, trying to fall asleep. If this describes you, you may be
suffering from Sleep Onset Insomnia. It may be that you cannot
switch off your mind at night, your body may be physically tense,
there may be some other specific problem, or there may be no
reason at all that you can identify.
Case Study: Geraldine, 35, executive secretary.
Trouble sleeping well without medication (medication dependence insomnia)
Some people can sleep quite well as long as they take sleeping medication,
but their sleep becomes much worse if they do not take their sleeping pills.
Other people sleep quite poorly even while taking sleeping medication, but they
sleep even worse if they stop taking the medication. This is know as Medication
Case Study: Derek, 48, middle level manager.
Waking up frequently during the night (sleep maintenance insomnia)
Some people can fall asleep quickly enough, but then they wake up
three, four or even ten times each night. These wakings may last
from one or two minutes to several hours each. If you suffer from
frequent waking (Sleep Maintenance Insomnia), you probably do not
get enough Stage 4 sleep (deep refreshing sleep), and you are
likely to be tired during the day.
Case Study: Marian, 57, teacher, married for the second time.
Waking up and having trouble going back to sleep (early morning waking)
Another common form of insomnia is Early Morning Waking. People
suffering from this condition can sleep all right for a while, but
then they wake in the early hours of the morning, and stay awake
for several hours or have no more sleep at all. Early Morning
Waking of this type can be a symptom of depression. However, it
also often occurs even when no depression is present at all (other
than the depression that can arise when you lie there not sleeping
for hours at a time).
Case Study: Sharon, 39, housewife.
Excessive thinking or worrying in bed.
Many people complain that they have trouble switching off their
mind at night. You may be a worrier: "How am I going to solve this
problem? How am I going to solve that problem?". You may find that
your mind wants to go over and over the day’s events. You may spend
much time thinking about the things you have to do tomorrow. Or
your mind may be thinking more peaceful thoughts - but you will
still cannot switch it OFF. The term that is sometimes used for
this condition is Worry Insomnia (though Think and/or Worry
Insomnia may be more accurate).
Case Study: Tony, 28, self-employed tradesman, single.
Worrying about ‘not sleeping’.
It has been said that more sleep is lost through worrying about
‘not sleeping’ than from any other cause. Many people lie in bed
saying to themselves urgently: "I’ve got to sleep! If I don’t
sleep, I’ll never get through the day tomorrow!", or words to that
effect. This is, of course, a particular case of Excessive Thinking
or Worrying in Bed, or Worry Insomnia. It is so important, and so
widespread, that I have given it a category of its own.
Case Study: Shirley, 56, cleaning lady, divorced.
Light sleep, poor quality sleep, non-restorative sleep.
Some people can sleep as much as eight hours a night, yet they are
not refreshed when they wake up, and they are still tired during
the day on most days. This is often an indication that they are
suffering from Light Sleep, or a failure to get enough deep,
refreshing Stage 4 sleep.
Case Study: Fiona, 64, retired office worker, widowed.
Irregular or erratic sleep (bouts of insomnia)
Some people sleep quite well for months or years at a time, but
then have periods of a few days, weeks or months of poor sleep.
These Bouts of Insomnia, as they are called, can be very frustrating
- just when you think you are on top of the problem, it
Case Study: Victor, 30, public servant, single.
Insomnia associated with chronic pain.
Many people who have suffered injury or illness can sleep all right
except for the fact that they suffer from chronic pain. This is
known as Pain-Related Insomnia. In some cases, the lack of enough
good quality sleep can make the pain worse, which in turn makes the
sleep worse, and so a downward spiral is created.
Case Study: Gayle, 41, librarian, de facto relationship.
The Sleep Better Without Drugs self-help program has been found to
work well by people suffering from each of these types of insomnia.
Many of the people who have benefited from the program have
suffered from several of these types of insomnia at once - this is
very, very common.