The impact of sleeplessness 

As anyone who has had long term sleep disruption knows, sleeping well is hugely important. Sleep problems are common in people with health problems, and skin conditions are no different. A long term sleep issue is usually described as insomnia, the kinds of issues we associate with insomnia include:

  • Feelings of fatigue and tiredness
  • Increased anxiousness and irritability
  • Reduce concentration and focus
  • Low mood, social withdrawal
  • Listlessness
  • Stress and depression associated with sleep time

A personal experience

Sleep is very much a personal experience, and what may hold true for one person may not hold true for another. For example we have no firm guide to what is considered ‘enough’ sleep. For some people four hours may be enough per night, for another person they may need 10 or more hours. There is a big variation from person to person; factors that may affect how much sleep people need include age, health and how much activity you do. Other factors might include weight, diet, alcohol intake, and stress levels.

Causes of sleep problems

King’s College London has an excellent resource called ‘Overcoming sleep problems’ that outlines the various causes of sleep problems on page 2. They include:

  • Physical causes: such as pain or itch from your condition
  • Your feelings: stress and anxiety can get in the way of sleep
  • Your thoughts: negative worrisome thoughts can also prevent peaceful sleep
  • Your environment and routine: a noisy, bright, or unfamiliar environment can make sleeping hard, as can an erratic routine

‘Overcoming sleep problems’ also has an excellent list on page three of issues that can cause sleep problems to persist.

Getting past sleeping problems

Sleep problems are complex, so overcoming them is not always easy. To achieve this it’s important to remain healthy, take care of yourself, learn to relax (more on meditation and mindfulness is available here), observe good ‘sleep hygiene’, and get some light.

For more on these points and to read about exercises you can do, such as maintaining a ‘sleep diary’ read ‘Overcoming sleep problems’ in full.

For a handy list of dos and don’ts, as well as information on treatments and medication there is a link below to the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ leaflet on Sleeping Well.

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