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Why Can't I Sleep? Understanding and Overcoming Sleeplessness

Many people struggle with sleeplessness, also known as insomnia. This can be incredibly frustrating, leading to feelings of frustration and anxiety during the day, and significantly disrupting your daily life.  It seems to be particularly endemic at the moment, possibly as a result of overuse of devices and our generally more frenetic lifestyles. Here are some of the common causes, and how therapy can help you achieve restful sleep.

Causes of Sleeplessness:

  • Stress and Anxiety: Chronic stress or worry can make it difficult to quiet your mind and fall asleep. Racing thoughts and rumination can keep you awake.

  • Depression: Sleep problems are a common symptom of depression. Feelings of hopelessness and low mood can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

  • Medical Conditions: Medical conditions like pain, sleep apnea, and hormonal changes can contribute to sleep disturbances.

  • Lifestyle Habits: Inconsistent sleep schedules, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, and screen time before bed can negatively impact sleep quality. 

  • Environmental Factors: Noise, light pollution, and an uncomfortable sleeping environment can disrupt your sleep.

The Cycle of Sleeplessness:

Sleeplessness can create a vicious cycle.  The more you worry about falling asleep, the harder it becomes. This frustration can worsen anxiety and make it even more difficult to sleep.

How Psychotherapy Can Help:

Therapy can be a powerful tool in overcoming sleeplessness and promoting healthy sleep habits:

  • Identifying the Root Cause: We'll work together to understand what's underlying your sleep problems. This might involve exploring stress triggers, negative thoughts, or lifestyle habits that contribute to difficulty sleeping.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): A highly effective form of therapy for insomnia. CBT-I teaches you practical strategies to improve sleep hygiene, manage stress and anxiety, and challenge negative thoughts related to sleep.

  • Relaxation Techniques: Therapists can teach you relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to help you unwind before bed.

  • Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can help you quiet your mind and reduce worry, promoting better sleep.

  • Sleep Hygiene Education: You'll learn about strategies to optimize your sleep environment, establish a regular sleep schedule, and develop a relaxing bedtime routine.

Building Healthy Sleep Habits:

Therapy can empower you to take charge of your sleep and develop healthy sleep practices.  With the right tools and support, you can break the cycle of sleeplessness and get the restful sleep you need to function at your best. If the problem persists it might be appropriate to seek referral to a specialist sleep clinic, but for most people taking a few initial treatment steps can be highly effective.

Here are some additional points to consider:

Importance of addressing medical issues: If you suspect an underlying medical condition is contributing to your sleeplessness, it’s crucial to talk to your GP about this too.
Individualized approach: Therapy is tailored to your specific needs and challenges. The techniques used will vary depending on the underlying cause of your sleep problems.

Sleeplessness can be very anxiety-inducing, but interventions do work.  A therapist can guide you towards achieving better sleep and improve your overall well-being. Again, different therapists will have different approaches – some more focused on underlying reasons, some on more directive interventions – so have a look at whose approach might be likely to work best for you.

These websites might also be useful:

Sleep Foundation: ( A wealth of science-based information about sleep disorders, sleep hygiene tips, and resources to find sleep specialists.

The Sleep Charity (UK): ( Provides detailed information about sleep, insomnia, and sleep hygiene practices.

Headspace: ( This popular mindfulness app includes guided meditations specifically designed for sleep.

How we can help

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