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How to access insomnia treatment on the NHS

How to access insomnia treatment on the NHS

Sleep problems tend to get worse the longer we leave them so it’s best to tackle a sleep problem as soon as possible. It’s not always possible to resolve sleep problems by yourself and you may find that you need help from a doctor or specialist sleep service like Sleepstation. If you’re struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep and it’s affecting your daily life – particularly if you’ve had the problem for more than four weeks, then it’s time to do something about it.

You may already know that you have insomnia. If not, diagnosis is fairly simple. Most people can be diagnosed with insomnia simply by describing their symptoms. If have or think you have insomnia, Sleepstation could help you determine the cause and overcome your sleep problem.

Accessing Sleepstation through the NHS

It’s best to make sure that we can help you before you register for NHS access. The simplest method to access Sleepstation as an NHS patient is outlined below:

  • Click the button below to start the process.
  • Answer a few short questions to find out if we can help you.
  • If so, register as an NHS patient by completing the online form.

If approved, you will be granted NHS access and can start the programme.

Is a GP appointment required?

Not usually. If your GP already knows about your sleep problem and you follow the process outlined above, you shouldn’t need to visit your GP to access Sleepstation via the NHS. However, you can also visit your GP in person to discuss insomnia treatment options with them if you’d prefer. Your GP understands your medical history, knows about the other sleep services in your area, and will be able to decide if Sleepstation is the right option for you at this time.

Non-NHS options

Alternatively, if you would like to access Sleepstation immediately – without going via the NHS, you can choose one of the private access options when you’ve answered the questions in the screening questionnaire. If you purchase a private package, you can also request for your results to be shared with your GP.

How effective is Sleepstation?

Sleepstation is incredibly effective. Our service has been clinically tested and is proven to help people overcome even very severe insomnia.

  • Our most recent study showed that 81% of people who follow the Sleepstation programme gain significant improvement in their sleep as a result.
  • Sleepstation is more effective than sleeping pills with fewer side-effects.
  • Sleepstation is more accessible & convenient than insomnia services offered at sleep clinics.
  • Most people start to see results within 2–3 weeks.
  • Commitment to the programme is key.

We’ve guided thousands of people through this programme, and we know that everyone is different. Your sleep problem is unique to you so we’ll tailor your plan to your needs and be available to provide support via our secure messaging system to ensure that you get the best out of your sleep therapy.

Ultimately how effective Sleepstation is depends on you. People who are committed and follow the plan show the greatest improvement. It’s best to start Sleepstation when you feel you’re ready to commit.

What do patients think of Sleepstation?

One former Sleepstation patient is Jan. Jan had suffered with insomnia for many years before trying Sleepstation, in the video below she describes her experience.

We’re pleased to say that we have a continuous stream of overwhelmingly positive feedback from the thousands of people who have improved their sleep through Sleepstation, from all ages and walks of life. We maintain regular contract with patients throughout the 6-8 week programme and ask people to share their experiences with us. You can find some more examples of the positive impact Sleepstation can have on our patient stories page.

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Insomnia treatments

Several approaches are used to treat insomnia, and the most evidence-based treatment available, the one most widely recommended, is a special type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) designed for people with insomnia.

CBT for insomnia (CBTi)

CBTi is recommended as the best starting point for treating insomnia that has lasted for long-term insomnia - insomnia that has lasted for more than four weeks. Unlike sleeping pills, CBTi helps you overcome the underlying causes of your sleep problems rather than just alleviating the symptoms.

CBTi is quite different to other forms of CBT that you may have heard of or had experience with in the past – for example CBT for anxiety or depression. So, if you’ve tried CBT before and haven’t found it useful, it’s not to say that CBTi won’t work for you.

CBTi is safe, effective and proven to resolve long-term insomnia. It is well validated and supported by over 30 years of sleep science. While CBTi is acknowledged to work, the lack of trained therapists and sleep experts has made it difficult for NHS patients to access this treatment in the past as waiting lists for NHS sleep clinics are long.

Sleepstation is an online CBTi programme that has been clinically proven to be just as effective as treatment provided in sleep clinics but without the long waiting lists.

The first step in treating insomnia with CBTi is to identify the underlying causes of the insomnia. The Sleepstation programme begins with a week-long assessment and sleep review.

Sleepstation’s online CBTi programme is available for free on the NHS in England and a GP referral is usually required. However, you won’t always need to visit your GP to get a referral. Further details about the referral options can be found on our NHS options page.

Sleeping pills

Prescription sleeping tablets are usually only considered as a last resort and should be used for only a few days or weeks at a time. This is because they don’t treat the cause of insomnia, are highly addictive and are associated with a number of side effects. They can also become less effective if they are taken very regularly. GPs now rarely prescribe sleeping pills to treat insomnia.

Graphic showing someone using Sleepstation on their mobile phone alongside a some sleeping pills and a pill bottle.
There is no objective benefit of sleeping pills beyond placebo and they are associated with a higher risk of death and cancer.

Your GP

Your GP may start by trying to identify and treat any underlying health condition, such as anxiety, that may be causing your sleep problems. They may ask you about your sleeping patterns and routines, your daily alcohol and caffeine intake, and your general lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise. They’ll probably also explain some of the things that you can do to help improve your sleep.

These include:

  • Going to bed and getting up at regular times.
  • Taking time to relax before bedtime.
  • Keeping your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise in the 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed.
  • Avoiding napping during the day.
  • Making a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before going to bed to help you put them to the back of your mind until morning.
A woman watches television
A tray of coffee making equipment

They will also check your medical history for any illness or medication that may be causing or contributing to your sleep problem and should discuss all your treatment options with you. Your views and preferences should always be taken into account when making decisions about your treatment.

Sleep clinics

Sleep clinics are used to assess and treat sleep problems. Your GP can refer you to specialist sleep clinics or hospital departments that help treat people with sleep disorders. Most sleep clinics have purpose-built facilities for monitoring sleep (polysomnography), which measure the pattern and depth of sleep and closely monitors breathing during sleep. So, if you’re referred to a sleep clinic you may be asked to spend the night in a sleep lab so that your sleep can be monitored. However, the majority of patients can be diagnosed using much simpler monitoring which can be performed at home following demonstration of the equipment during a brief visit to the hospital. You will need a referral from your GP to access a sleep clinic on the NHS.

Did you know?

In a survey carried out of the BBC in 2016 1,000 people aged 18 and over, more than a third (37%) of Britons, said they did not get the right amount of sleep.

Alternative therapies

Some people have reported that alternative therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology and hypnosis have been useful in helping them relax and improve sleep. At the moment, there’s not much scientific proof that they help.

Want a GP referral to Sleepstation?

Click the button below to start the process.

Start fixing your sleep problem today

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Further information

  • NHS treatments for insomnia

    Insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you've had enough opportunity to sleep…

  • Snoring & sleep apnoea

    Professor Jim Horne explains the difference between snoring and sleep apnoea, and people talk about the methods they've used to get a healthy night's sleep…

  • Our natural sleep cycle

    Jessa Gamble reveals the surprising and substantial program of rest we should be observing…