How Well Did You Sleep Last Night?

By Neralie Cain, Clinical Psychologist

Sleep is such a funny thing. As young children, many of us resist it. As we grow up, we learn its’ value and sometimes even crave it; yet, we often do not prioritise it. But how do we know whether the insufficient sleep that we complain about is more than just one bad night?

As a clinical psychologist, I use validated questionnaires to assess common difficulties. Click here to complete a quick screening questionnaire about your sleep quality, and receive some personalised feedback on your responses. Read on to find out about 4 of the most common reasons that people feel tired during the day.

1. Insufficient opportunity for sleep

The first question to ask yourself is: Am I spending enough time in bed to get the sleep that I need? In our busy lives, it’s easy to feel like sleep is less important than meeting deadlines, crossing things off the “to-do” list, or enjoying much-needed quiet time after the kids are (finally) in bed. But if you’re falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, struggling to wake up with your alarm in the mornings, constantly feeling tired during the day, and needing to sleep-in or take naps on the weekend to compensate, then you might not be giving yourself enough opportunity for sleep. Try switching off your screens and going to bed 30mins earlier each night for a week, and see how this affects how you feel during the day.

2. Breathing-related sleep disorders

If you regularly snore, wake up gasping for air, or your partner tells you that you stop breathing for short periods during the night, then you may have a breathing-related sleep disorder. If this is the case, you may need to talk to your GP about referral to a sleep physician and an overnight sleep study. Breathing-related sleep disorders can have long-term health consequences, so it’s important to get this checked-out.

3. Insomnia

If you regularly take more than 30mins to fall asleep, or can’t get back to sleep after waking during the night, AND this is causing problems for you during the day (e.g., feeling tired, irritable, or difficulty concentrating) then you might have insomnia. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) has a strong evidence base and is more effective in the long-term than sleeping pills (and without the negative side effects). CBT-i is best delivered by a psychologist with specialist training in sleep disorders.

4. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders

If you can’t fall asleep until the early hours of the morning regardless of what time you went to bed, and you find it impossible to wake up in time for work or school, then you might have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. These sleep disorders are caused by a body clock that is out-of-sync with the clock time, meaning that this person would be able to sleep well if they could stick to their own biological schedule, but they experience problems when they have to stick to the day/night schedule that’s considered “normal” for our society. Even though these disorders may have a biological basis, they can still be treated with behavioural interventions. Again, a psychologist with specialist training in sleep disorders is the ideal person to see for advice.

More Information

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. If your sleep pattern does not match any of these descriptions, and yet it is causing problems for you, then contact us to book a comprehensive sleep assessment.

You can learn more about Dr Neralie Cain and what she does as a Clinical Psychologist here. You can also read more specific information about Neralie’s work with sleep difficulties here.

To see Neralie, you do not require a referral from your GP. Psychology may be claimable under private health insurance extras. We also accept Mental Health Care plans, however you would need to see your GP to obtain one of these.

If you are seeing Neralie for the first time, the appointment would be a 60 minute initial assessment at Move for Better Health’s clinic.

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