TROUBLE SLEEPING? Exploring the link between anxiety and poor sleep and how hypnotherapy can help.

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

According to the NHS, one in 3 of us suffers from poor sleep. Interestingly, many of are not even aware that we are sleep-deprived! There are many factors that may adversely affect our sleep. These include a range of physical and psychological conditions, environmental and lifestyle factors, working patterns and family/caring responsibilities.

Whatever the reason, we all know how we can feel if we are not getting the sleep we need - tired, grumpy, lacking in concentration.

However did you know that sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your health and your life in general? Poor sleep is linked to anxiety and depression, poor performance at work, increased risk of accidents, infertility and more and puts you at risk of serious medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes, even shortening life expectancy.

How are poor sleep and anxiety related?

We accumulate and store all the various stresses and strains of our daily lives in a metaphorical 'stress bucket'. One of the functions of sleep is to help us empty this bucket. During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, we process all the upsets and emotions of the day and convert them from being emotional memories to being narrative memories over which we have control. Ideally we wake up in the morning with an empty bucket, ready to start the day afresh without any worries.

Unfortunately, if we have too much in our stress bucket, or if we are not getting enough good quality sleep, we can't empty our bucket fully every night and our anxieties will start to build up, potentially giving rise to a whole host of related issues. Also, when the brain has to work too hard during sleep to empty our bucket it reacts by waking us up, and we typically lie awake worrying, unable to get back to sleep for a long time. We can also have problems getting to sleep in the first place or waking up too early in the morning. What's more, just knowing we can't sleep is anxiety-provoking in itself which just adds to the problem. Thus a vicious circle develops.

So what can we do to help?

In some cases, sleep deprivation might be a symptom of an undiagnosed sleep disorder or other medical problem so if you have any major concerns it is always best to consult your GP.

However, insomnia can very often get better by changing your sleeping habits.

The NHS recommends the following:


- go to bed and wake up at the same time every day

- only go to bed when you feel tired

- relax for at least 1 hour before bed, for example, take a bath or read a book

- make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet – use thick curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs

- exercise regularly during the day

- make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable


- do not smoke or drink alcohol, tea or coffee at least 6 hours before going to bed

- do not eat a big meal late at night

- do not exercise at least 4 hours before bed

- do not watch television or use devices right before going to bed – the bright light makes you more awake

- do not nap during the day

- do not sleep in after a bad night's sleep – stick to your regular sleeping hours instead

How can solution-focused hypnotherapy help with sleep disorders?

Solution-focused hypnotherapy can be very effective at reducing stress and anxiety as well as other disorders that affect sleep such as depression and chronic pain. This is achieved through a combination of psychotherapeutic techniques and trance. The trance state is a deeply relaxing and pleasant experience which mimics Rapid Eye Movement sleep, thus helping us to alleviate anxieties. One of the most noticeable and rapidly-achieved effects of therapy is a marked improvement in sleep patterns. By helping to get your sleep patterns back on track, hypnotherapy can have a powerful impact on a number of serious health issues, as well as improving your concentration, your performance at work, sex life, relationships, and so much more.


Dr Sophie Bostock, Sleep Evangelist :