“I’ve got no problem falling asleep, and I stay asleep right through the night…it’s just that, when I wake up, I don’t feel refreshed! I just can’t get a good night’s sleep.” Does that sound familiar?
A surprisingly high number of people have what would be classed as ‘normal’ sleep patterns, but nonetheless wake up feeling sleepy, dull and unfocused – unable to concentrate and generally feeling ‘below par’. It is sleep quality, rather than duration or continuity, where the problem lies – they simply cannot get a good night’s sleep. This can be particularly frustrating since in the absence of a disturbed sleep pattern there are no obvious ways to improve sleep quality alone, and nothing more than sleep tips available to help.
The clinical term for problems with sleep quality in the absence of sleep pattern disturbance is ‘Non-restorative sleep’ (NRS). Persistent and regular problems of this sort that cause significant distress qualify as an official insomnia subtype according to the internationally-recognized DSM-IV manual of psychological disorders. Results from the Great British Sleep Survey (GBSS) indicated that about 9% of poor sleepers experience NRS. Importantly, NRS should be considered as important as other types of insomnia, like those with problems falling asleep, because impairment in daytime functioning has been shown to be similar across these groups.
NRS as a distinct type of insomnia is only now beginning to receive attention in the clinical and scientific literature. This means that treatment options for this subtype are currently being explored. Importantly, work using CBT methods have revealed improvements in sleep quality, after course completion. Indeed, the Sleepio course, which features cognitive and behavioral techniques, was shown in clinical trials to increase sleep quality by 114% on average. Such online sleep improvement programs are a promising new way to help those with bad quality sleep get a good night sleep.