If you’re diagnosing insomnia, you’re looking at somebody who can’t get to sleep or can’t maintain sleep. They might get to sleep but in the middle of the night they suddenly wake up and there’s no getting back to sleep.
Or they can get to sleep fine.. They can stay asleep fine but they’re getting up ridiculously early in the morning. Or the quality seems so poor the sleep is never deep. They’re waking up in the morning feeling like they haven’t had any sleep or it’s all over the place. The interesting thing is that the most common trigger of insomnia tends to be anxiety and life stresses.
It can be caused by anything so it could be caused by medication you were put on, a new illness, some kind of stressful life event that you’ve been through, iron deficiency, menopause, pregnancy, children… everything can cause a sleep problem.
Sleep problems are actually normal for a few weeks. But when you start noticing that that sleep problem has lasted longer than three months. And more than three times a week, it’s become habitual… So there is no point looking at the original trigger anymore.
There is no point trying to fix it because it’s not going to fix the habit that this problem has become. That’s when behavioural work that I do can be very successful.
Unfortunately that’s where a lot of doctors will go wrong with this. They will try to help you with the original trigger and then might notice that even without the original trigger your sleep problem is still there.
If you’ve been suffering from a sleep disorder for longer than 3 months, we would describe it as a diagnostic classification sleep disorder. Most of the time we’re seeing insomnia.
Most people with a sleep problem wouldn’t say that every night is the same. Sometimes they get it seasonally so it varies. They sometimes say, “oh well, I get a sleep problem sometimes and then not other times.”