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Trouble falling asleep?

There’s many reasons why some people find it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. In this blog, we take a look at Michael’s story and delve into what led to his sleep patterns and what can be done to help. 

Michael is a 28-year-old accountant who works full time in the city. He catches a bus to work and usually falls asleep on the bus in the morning and on the way home.

Michael complains of difficulty trying to fall asleep at night. No matter what time he goes to bed, he can’t fall asleep until about 1-2:00am. In the evening he doesn’t feel sleepy and often works or plays computer games until about 11:30pm when he goes to bed and ‘tries to fall asleep’. 

He gets very frustrated and starts to worry if he will wake up in the morning on time and how he will cope with his busy day. The longer it takes to fall asleep, the more worried he becomes knowing he will get even less sleep before he has to get out of bed in the morning for work. 

This pattern indicates some ‘conditioned insomnia’.

On weekdays, he sets his alarm for 7:00am but often sleeps through it. In desperation, he sets two alarms, the second one on the other side of his bedroom so he has to get out of bed to turn it off. He gets about 5-6 hours sleep on weeknights.

Generally Michael doesn’t have time for breakfast, but he doesn’t feel like eating anyway. He needs a strong cup of coffee ‘to get him going’ in the morning and feels he is not fully awake until about 10:00am, after another cup of coffee. During the day, he feels fatigued and sometimes has difficulty concentrating. He also experiences difficulty staying awake in meetings, especially those in the late afternoon.

After work, he feels very fatigued and has to really ‘push himself’ to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. During the weekend, Michael stays up later on Friday and Saturday nights and enjoys a sleep in, especially on Sunday mornings. He often does not get out of bed until midday. On weekends he feels better as he has been able to ‘catch up on sleep’. However, he then finds it very difficult to get to sleep on Sunday night, thereby repeating the pattern of insufficient sleep on weeknights. 

This pattern indicates a ‘delayed circadian rhythm’ contributing to his difficulty getting to sleep. 

In this case, Michael has ‘Sleep Onset Insomnia’ and ‘Delayed Sleep Phase’. Recommended treatment would consist of Stimulus Control Therapy, Morning Bright Light Therapy (available by using Re-Timer) and Cognitive Therapy.

To find more information on sleep disorders and the recommended therapies, download the free eBook ‘How To Sleep Better’, available here:

If you relate to any of the above, please seek the help of a sleep health professional for a complete assessment of your sleep patterns and the treatments that may be of assistance to you. You can find a list of sleep clinics using Re-Timer here: 

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