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Self-help program

What is insomnia?

Virtually everyone suffers from insomnia at one time or another. Insomnia can manifest itself in many different ways.

Insomnia can manifest itself as

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty staying asleep
  • waking up during the night or waking too early

An individual may experience one, two or all of the symptoms listed above when suffering from insomnia.   

The insomnia cycle

When you have insomnia, it is common to spend long periods of time awake in bed ruminating and overthinking. Your mind races and you cannot “switch off”.

The longer you stay in bed awake, the harder it becomes to fall asleep. As your mind and nervous system become increasingly aroused, your emotions can range from despair to near rage.

You start to worry about the lack of sleep and how it will affect your performance the next day. Sleep and falling asleep consume your thoughts and all your attention. This makes falling asleep all the more difficult, and insomnia becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

Graphic picture of factors affecting sleep

Stress, anxiety and worries lead to increased arousal. Higher levels of arousal make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, and produce poorer-quality sleep. This leads to anxiety about the lack of sleep, which again increases arousal levels.