Sleep Problems

Sleep problems can stem from various causes, and it’s certain that struggling to fall asleep and experiencing interruptions throughout the night can lead to frustration, stress, and worry about your sleep problems. Paradoxically, these concerns can exacerbate the difficulty of falling asleep, marking the inception of a vicious cycle of sleep-related anxiety for some individuals.  If you’re struggling with sleep problems you’re in the right place, our Melbourne psychologists understand the multitude of benefits of cognition, performance, mood, physical endurance and much more.

Sleep problems and when to seek support

Common signs and symptoms of sleep problems:

  • Struggle to fall asleep, leading to anxious thoughts about the upcoming work or school day
  • Restless sleep when your mind remains active,
  • Tossing and turning as you dwell on past or future events, leaving you feeling upset and stressed
  • Disrupted sleep by waking up repeatedly during the night and struggling to return to sleep
  • Feeling restless and frustrated as you struggle to return to peaceful slumber
  • Daytime fatigue the following day, low energy, reduced motivation, and irritability
  • Fatigue impacting your productivity, concentration, problem-solving abilities, and memory
  • Slower reactions are especially noticeable in fast-paced situations like driving and competitive sports
  • Feeling the need to take daytime naps or hit the snooze button multiple times before rising from bed
  • Nighttime snoring as pointed out by your partner due to disrupting their sleep
  • Waking up intermittently due to breathing pauses resulting in fatigue and reduced energy levels

What factors are associated with sleep problems?

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, overstimulation, or life overload can contribute to sleep problems
  • Sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and restless legs syndrome
  • Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
  • Medications may have side effects that affect sleep
  • Medical diagnoses such as gastroesophageal reflux, chronic obstructive lung disease, asthma, etc 
  • Chronic pain for other medical conditions such as arthritis
  • Conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and urinary issues may play a role
  • Overactive thyroid and a range of other illnesses can also affect sleep
  • Neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and dementia


For this reason, we always include the GP as part of the care team to manage sleep problems.  It’s advisable to consult with your GP to understand the side effects of any medications you are taking.

Getting enough sleep can help with regulating appetite, metabolism and mood, as well as immune, hormonal and cardiovascular functioning.

Consensus Conference Panel et al. (2015)

Support for sleep problems with a psychologist at our Melbourne psychology practice

What are the benefits of good sleep?

Sleep is a natural process with remarkable benefits for the human body. A few short-term benefits of sleep include muscle restoration, consolidating new learnings and memories, as well as helping to better manage stress and emotions. Good quality sleep and sleep habits are important for optimal daily function and our thoughts and behaviour. Good sleep also has a number of benefits for your academic, athletic or professional performance. One tip right now is to make good-quality sleep a priority in your daily routine.

What is the initial step in seeking support with a psychologist?

Our Melbourne psychology practice recommends consulting your GP to arrange an MHTP referral to Positive Wellbeing Psychology. A medical examination will enable a comprehensive evaluation of any potential health concerns that could be impacting your sleep. In certain cases, individuals with sleep problems may find it beneficial to combine medication with psychological therapy.

How can psychologists help with the treatment of sleep problems?

Psychologists typically utilise a combination of Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and personalised sleep hygiene techniques, among other evidence-based therapies and strategies. These may also include:


Relaxation training – you’ll learn deep breathing exercises, progressive muscular relaxation, or meditation techniques. Research has shown that calming your mind before bedtime can facilitate falling asleep.


Stimulus control therapy – this involves only going to bed when you are genuinely sleepy. It may also include refraining from activities such as reading, watching TV, snacking, eating within two hours of bedtime, or listening to music in bed. Establishing a consistent wake-up time, even after a restless night, and minimizing daytime naps are important aspects of this therapy.


Sleep restriction therapy – this approach may involve reducing the amount of time spent in bed to match your estimated total sleep time on an average night.


Cognitive therapy – you’ll be introduced to evidence-based techniques aimed at replacing negative thoughts about sleep with more positive and compassionate ones, such as “If I relax peacefully in bed, my body will take care of itself.”

What to anticipate when consulting psychologists for sleep-related challenges?

A psychologist who holds a special interest in sleep problems will usually start by asking questions to uncover potential factors affecting your sleep. An evidence-based method in cognitive-behavioural therapy involves maintaining a sleep diary. A sleep diary often plays a pivotal role in addressing chronic sleep issues during therapy sessions.


CBT sleep diaries provide an overview of your daily activities, including bedtime, wake time, sleep quality, and other relevant details. With this information, the psychologist will collaborate with you to formulate a personalised plan of action aligned with your specific needs and therapy objectives. Psychologists will also explore current stressors, anxieties, significant life events, or alterations in your daily routine. 


How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology help?

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, our experienced Melbourne psychologists have a special interest in helping individuals improve their sleep using evidence-based approaches including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, which is found to be highly efficacious in improving sleep.   

Our psychologists have a special interest in sleep psychology due to the myriad advantages that come from improving an individual’s sleep, including cognition, performance, mood, physical endurance, and various other aspects. We also understand the consequences of persistent sleep deprivation.

Make an Appointment

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we offer flexible appointments with our psychologists during the day, evening, or weekends, both in-person at our Melbourne psychology practice or online via telehealth.

believe in change and reach progress with a Melbourne psychologist

Our team of psychologists hold full registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and adheres to ethical guidelines as mandated by the Psychologists Registration Board and the Australian Psychological Society. At our Melbourne psychology clinic, our psychologists are devoted to applying evidence-based treatment techniques to help individuals manage sleep-related challenges.

Sleep Anxiety Therapy