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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I sleep through the whole night without waking up due to stress?

    Not only do I find trouble falling asleep, I wake up multiple times throughout the night.. I just have so much going on in my life and tend to be a worrisome person. What can I do?
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  • 5

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    Karen Amos

    Counsellor, Personal Trainer

    Walk and Talk is just what you need to begin living a life that you love. I'm Karen Amos and at Walk and Talk Australia … View Profile

    Falling asleep and having trouble sleeping through the whole night due to stress really says that your mind is not allowed to have any time to rest at all. There are some practical things that can be done, like putting in new routines that encourage sleep time, and having pre-sleep rituals. For some people that might be a ten minute meditation where they may choose to do what I call a body check. Check my hair, check my heart. Check throughout my body before going to sleep in order to relax myself. Spend that time letting go of things from the day. You may also need to make practical changes to your daily life so you deal with less by perhaps dropping some responsibilities and tasks.

  • 1

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    Damien Haines

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Damien Haines is a registered Clinical Psychologist who brings a warm and empathetic approach to therapy. He emphasises engagement in the world and encourages clients … View Profile

    Hi.

    The above advice is very sound. It does sound like you have a lot of trouble letting go of the day and slowing down those thoughts. It seems that you go to be stressed and wake up stressed as well. Stress will make it very difficult to attain a deep sleep which often translates to insomnia (early, middle or late - or a combination) and being a very light sleeper as well. Learning strategies to help to let go of the day is very helpful. These can include problem solving strategies, mindfulness strategies and relaxation strategies. Other things that are extremely helpful include a good bedtime routine, removing everything from your bedroom that is unrelated to sleep or sex, ie the tv, clock radio (don't clock watch!), computer, mobile phone etc, and making your room as comfortable as possible: minimising any light and noise, having comfortable bedding, having a window open and the room at a cool temperature.

    These strategies help to make the bedroom a calm, relaxing, soothing place to be rather than a stressful or active place to be. ie if you do work in the bed your brain associates the bed with work stress - making it harder to sleep. If you sleep with the phone by the bed expecting a call, you won't go into a deep sleep and you'll easily wake at the slightest noise - just in case there's a disaster!

    Some good resources are here at this archived webpage. Just go down about halfway to the insomnia section http://esvc000037.wic043u.server-web.com/resources.htm

    If you continue to have no relief it is probably best to go and see a psychologist to help you with good sleep hygiene practices.

  • Emma Webster

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a warm, supportive and compassionate therapist, committed to assisting my clients to connect to their inner wisdom and strength, to develop mindful awareness … View Profile

    First off, it's not unusual for people to wake up one to two times per night. However, often worrying does impact people's ability to have a good night's sleep. Problem-solving during the day or early evening can help. A routine before going to bed is well worth considering. For example, for the last 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed, turn off the computer and phone, do something quiet and relaxing, and maybe even consider learning mindfulness skills.

    Acceptance and commitment therapy teaches people to learn ways to deal more effectively with difficult thoughts and feelings, so that you can focus on what matters and struggle less with your mind. Worrying about things, especially worrying about getting to sleep, tends to make the whole thing a lot worse. A body scan meditation can be a great way to get out of your head at night. It might be worthwhile buying or reading a book such as “The Worry Trap”, or seeing a clinical psychologist to get some specific ideas to help you sleep unworried.

  • Often enough, we do not know our own mind. In the process of dialogue with another person, we are able to clarify what we think … View Profile

    Hi,
     
    There’s no doubt that not sleeping well and being stressed can sometimes end up in a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.
     
    I believe it is best to address it using a holistic approach because stress worry and insomnia are complicated things – so a comprehensive approach would be looking at diet – caffeine intake – alcohol and exercise in addition to relaxation strategies like meditation, mindfulness or yoga practice. None of these things are a quick fix but you can often see benefits in a couple of weeks. 
     
    I agree with the practical advice provided so far. The only couple of things I would add are that exercise is a good stress and sleep strategy – particularly exercise (just a half hour walk will do) in the early morning if possible as this has benefits on a number of levels.
     
    Some alternative therapies can also be of help such as Acupuncture.
     
    Lastly, you could see a health professional to discuss developing more effective stress management and sleep routines – I wouldn’t recommend a psychologist particularly – other mental health professionals such as counselors/social workers or mental health nurses are well equipped to address stress management and insomnia issues using a range of therapies including mindfulness and meditation practices. Naturopaths are also well qualified in this area as they are often familiar with different herbal treatments that can be of help.
     
    There are some mental health professionals who only specialise in sleep - such as SleepEasy which is a website you can get to by google http://www.sleepeasy.com.au

    Good luck.

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