According to the NHS, around one in three of us suffer with bouts of insomnia, which is the inability to get to sleep, or to sleep for long enough to wake up feeling well rested.
New research is suggesting that online cognitive behavioural therapy could be the right direction for sufferers to take when it comes to dealing with their night-time restlessness.
But what is online therapy? And what other therapies for insomnia are available?
1. Online therapy
In a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, an online CBT programme cured 57% of insomniacs in a control group, compared with 27% who received the usual advice on the condition.
Online CBT programmes get people to keep a digital sleep diary that can pinpoint the times of night when their sleep is most efficient, meaning they can adapt their bedtime routine accordingly, beating sleeplessness in the process.
2. Cognitive behavioural therapy
Traditionally people who have tried implementing a regular sleep pattern (see below), and haven’t seen any improvements, are referred for face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy with a qualified counsellor, to get to the root cause of their sleeplessness, and to help them develop coping strategies.
One of the first things people with insomnia are advised to do is establish a sleeping pattern, one that means going to bed at a certain time each evening, waking up at a certain time each morning, not napping and having a relaxing pre-bedtime regime, one that, for example, includes no phone use and having a bath.
There are numerous apps that can help track your sleeping patterns, so you’re better able to pinpoint when you’re prone to waking and at what points you grow most restless, so you’re prepared for next time.
There are also a number of alarm clocks on the market that wake you up by emitting a light that mimics the dawn outside, so passing in and out of sleep feels more natural.
If your insomnia is very severe, doctors will consider prescribing sleeping tablets, but this is usually a last resort as they can be highly addictive.
6. Complementary therapies
Some insomniacs swear by reflexology and acupuncture because of the relaxation benefits and release of tension associated with them.
There is an array of food and drink insomniacs are often advised to steer clear of to boost their chances of getting some shut-eye. Try cutting out alcohol and drinks containing caffeine (it’s a stimulant), as well as chocolate, spicy foods, cheese and fatty foods, particularly in the evening.