A guide on how to understand borderline personality disorder

Over the last few years, mental health has become a topic that is well-accepted within different households. You need to look after your mental health just as much as you look after your physical health. That means if you have been diagnosed with a disorder, you should seek out help from a mental health specialist.

So, let’s start off with finding out more about borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is an extremely misunderstood mental health condition. This is why it is crucial that you learn more about it if you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed.

What is borderline personality disorder?

When you take a BPD online course, you will learn that BPD is a mood disorder that affects how the person interacts with others. This will ultimately affect how they think, feel, perceive and relate to other people.

Having BPD has been described as a person metaphorically having third-degree burns all over their skin that can make them feel extreme emotions and pain about very small issues. The lack of “emotional skin” can make it difficult for those with BPD to regulate their emotions and reactions to other people. This can make it very common for those with BPD to have a very negative self-image, thus they will find it difficult to function.

Those with BPD may struggle to find meaningful relationships, namely because any prospect of separation or rejection can lead to suicidal idealisation, self-harm and extremely self-destructive behaviours. Sometimes, people with BPD may feel as if they do not exist to anyone at all. 

What are the symptoms of BPD?

There are many symptoms that are indicative of BPD. These include:

  • You are extremely worried that people will end up abandoning you
  • Your emotions can change quickly and can feel extremely intense
  • You feel unsure about who you are as a person
  • You cannot maintain stable relationships
  • You feel empty inside
  • You indulge in harmful behaviours (e.g., binge eating, drug use, drinking, dangerous driving)
  • You find it difficult to control your anger and tend to have explosions of rage
  • You tend to disassociate
  • You experience paranoia
  • You self-harm to feel better or experience suicidal feelings regularly

Usually, BPD is a disorder that develops from trauma from childhood or previous experiences in life. From this trauma, unhealthy coping mechanisms are created by the person to deal with their experiences.

How can people understand BPD better?

Honestly, BPD is a difficult condition that can leave people feeling isolated and misunderstood. Most people with BPD understand their condition can make them emotionally erratic and insecure. They also appreciate that their mental health does not excuse their behaviour. However, they do want people to understand them and make connections with them.

It is important to acknowledge why people with BPD act the way they do. Try not to hold it against them when an outburst does occur.

If you want to help someone with BPD, encourage them to seek treatment as soon as possible. You can also encourage self-care, such as healthy eating habits, mindfulness and a strong sleep pattern.

What qualifications do I need to become a counsellor?

If you are thinking about becoming a counsellor, your main aim as such a professional will be to help people who are suffering from poor mental health. You will discuss their problems and provide them with advice on how they can improve their lives.

In some cases, you may become a counsellor that deals with specific mental health problems; however, others may prefer to focus on more general issues. So, the main question is, what sort of qualifications do you need to become a counsellor? That’s what you’re going to find out below.

Do I need to be trained by a university to become a counsellor?

Honestly, there is a wide variety of courses available that would enable you to become a counsellor. Counselling trainer courses can be undertaken at universities, colleges and through online courses, social work or volunteering opportunities. You may even be able to take counselling courses online through professional groups.

If you intend to become a counsellor, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) will expect you to be registered with a professional organisation. They will also expect you to go through training.

We will discuss some of the other routes later, but just so you are aware, the BACP recommends that you undertake this three-step training route if you intend to become a counsellor:

  • Introduction to counselling skills: an 8–12-week course that can help you understand an overview of what is required of a counsellor, as well as basic skills that you will need for your career.
  • Counselling skills certificate: to help you understand the theory of counselling before you take on core training.
  • Core practitioner training: allowing you to hone your skills through practical training. These courses should take a year full time or two years part-time.

University qualifications

You can become a counsellor through a university qualification. Options include diplomas, degrees, and postgraduate certificates. You can combine a psychology or psychotherapy course with other subjects, like criminology or sociology. Make sure to pick a course that includes training and supervised placements, as well as theoretical lessons.

To join an academic course for counselling, you must possess 2-3 A-levels or an undergraduate degree.

College courses

If you are interested in starting a course that can be completed in around 12 weeks, it’s best that you focus on college courses. These can be used as an introduction, or even to extend any previous training. You will find entry requirements for these courses are varied, but they range in levels, depending on the amount of experience you have in counselling. You can obtain a diploma or certificate for undertaking these courses.

Volunteering

Outside of professional qualifications, it is wise to undertake training that can help you learn what counselling is like on a day-to-day basis. Organisations, like Samaritans, can offer you volunteering work to see how you can develop your skills.

Make sure to be specific when it comes to what sort of position you want when you volunteer. That way, you can make sure that your time is put to good use.  

The future of gender therapy & why study it?

Gender therapy is there for those who are struggling with their identity and body. It’s natural to question your gender. However, for some, the question of gender can truly have an impact on their lives.

After all, not all of us can be secure in the concept of our gender identity. A number of stereotypes and labels have left us questioning whether we really can adhere to society’s expectations of men, women and anyone who believes that their identity lies between biological definitions.

If you struggle with your own sense of gender, you may want to consider undertaking or studying gender therapy. Here is what you need to know.

Why should I study gender therapy?

If you are thinking about looking into gender studies courses, it may be because you are interested in learning about how gender can impact people physically, emotionally, socially and mentally.

This type of therapy is extremely useful for:

  • Those who want to understand their body on a deeper level
  • Those who feel confined by their expected gender role or forced to adhere to gender stereotypes
  • Those who want to find out who they are and where they fit into society

You can study a gender therapy course, or take advantage of gender therapy yourself, whether you are a cisgendered person or someone who identifies as transgender. Mainly, this type of therapy is perfect for people who are questioning their gender or who are extremely uncomfortable with their bodies.

Gender therapy is useful for coming to terms with gender. Keep in mind, however, that it is not the role of the gender therapist to define the gender identity of the patient. Instead, the therapist provides the tools to help the patient understand themselves and who they are as a person. 

How can gender therapy help me and/or others?

By undertaking a gender therapy course, you can learn about the different ways to help people (and yourself) feel better about the body that they were born into.

Gender treatment in general can also encompass both medical and non-medical options to help tackle gender dysphoria and help the body look more like how the person identifies. Gender therapy provides a safe option for the patient and their loved ones to learn about what is troubling them, and how they can tackle it together.

What is the future of gender therapy?

Whether you are a therapist looking to improve your knowledge of gender therapy, or a patient (or perhaps parent of a patient) considering different types of counselling, it is important to keep in mind that gender studies is a topic that is always changing.

Tolerance and open-mindedness are big factors that appear time and time again. So, you should make sure to keep up with the latest terminology, pronouns, and non-medical methods to help patients feel more comfortable in their body.

With that said, in the future, there may be more specific treatments available for patients to consider, including gene therapy and reproductive technology. There has been talk that modern medicine systems are ignoring transgender people. It is crucial, then, that gender therapy is there to provide pathways to help people have happier, healthier lives, whether those lives may also include surgeries and hormone treatments that can enhance the futures of different patients.

How does online therapy work & can you learn it?

Online therapy is a way to help patients and counsellors get in contact to work through personal and emotional issues. This type of therapy is also called “teletherapy”.

There may be times when patients do not want to see a therapist face to face, especially in light of the recent pandemic. This is why it is useful to have an online option for patients to utilise.

Online therapy is still quite a new medium; therefore, it comes with its challenges. However, it is possible to learn it and use it to speak to new patients and ensure that they are able to get help.

Here are some ideas to consider if you are interested in online therapy, including if you would like to provide this service to your own clients.  

How can you use online therapy?

In most cases, you will find that online therapy is very similar to traditional therapy. The best online therapy training in the UK will show you the main difference is that instead of undertaking the therapy in an office, it can occur online. This is usually through a video call or phone call.

The patient and therapist will decide when the session should take place, and the length of time of the session. If the patient needs to get in contact with the therapist, perhaps because of a crisis or constant feelings of guilt, shame or anxiety, they can message the therapist via text or through email. However, for other issues, they may need to wait for their next session.

What other types of online therapy are there?

‘Online therapy’ is quite a broad term, so can conceivably refer to various possible delivery models taking place over the Internet via connected devices such as laptops and smartphones.

Therapy may be delivered, for instance, through:

One of the best things about these categories of online therapies from the standpoint of the professional mental health practitioner, is that they can help you showcase your skills as a therapist and make you more accessible to patients.

Not only can these types of apps and services offer therapy on a 24/7 basis, but they can advertise your skills and help you match with patients that need your help.

How do I learn online therapy?

What is useful about online therapy is that if you are a trained therapist, you will already have the skillset needed to provide therapy to your patients.

Well, there is one new set of skills that you might particularly need to gain if you are to provide online therapy services: Internet skills. You can sign up to therapy platforms that can provide you with the skills needed to feel confident with speaking to your patients online.

If you specialise in a specific form of therapy, you could try to split up the process into different sessions. Just like an in-person session, you may find that the session moves away from a certain goal/idea and more into the feelings of your patients. Retain this, as it will make your patients feel more comfortable.

The final thing you will want to do is find a good platform to undertake your therapy on. BetterHelp and Talkspace provide platforms that can help match you with clients, however you may want to advertise your skills on psychology platforms that will allow you to speak to your clients through a video/phone call.

As for the training that you could need in order to be a more effective therapist, here at nscience, we take pride in making available the video courses, webinars, seminars and other forms of training that could make a significant difference to your career as a mental health professional.

What is EMDR therapy?

Dr Francine Shapiro discovered a link between distressing memories and eye movement in 1987, subsequently dedicating her life’s work to developing EMDR therapy, and it has been a popular psychotherapy treatment for decades since.

But what is it, and how does it work? Let’s take a look.

What does EMDR mean?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. EMDR therapy aims to reduce or remove the negative effect of memories surrounding a traumatic event.

It is most commonly used to treat disorders stemming from a distressing event, such as panic disorders, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

EMDR therapy can also be used to treat eating disorders, grief, personality disorders, childhood trauma, sleep issues, addiction, chronic illness, phobias, bipolar, and dissociative disorders.

How does it work?

Many talking therapies involve the client talking about a traumatic event and challenging their thoughts and emotions, with the ultimate goal of changing the behaviours that come from the distressing memory.

However, instead, EMDR helps clients to process the memories by assisting the brain in continuing its natural healing process.

After times of trauma, the brain sends signals between the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. This forms a process of alerting the brain to trauma, learning about the stresses involved, and controlling behaviour accordingly.

Despite this being a natural healing process for the brain, oftentimes it will need a little assistance and support to help fully process the traumatic memory – which is where EMDR therapy comes in.

Who can offer EMDR therapy?

As EMDR therapy is a recognised mental health intervention practice, it should only ever be offered by a trained and licensed mental health professional.

If you are a mental health clinician or a trainee, you should therefore undertake the proper EMDR training in the UK before you offer this psychotherapy service to your clients.

This is because EMDR can be used to treat extreme traumas, and is widely considered to be the best treatment for PTSD.

Due to the potential of increased risk in the clients, it is essential that training is undertaken so that the therapist can fully understand the implications of the disorders, and the best way to treat their clients.

What does an EMDR session typically involve?  

Firstly, the mental health professional will aim to find out about the past event causing the trauma, what triggers a response in the present day, and how the client might need to adapt in order to improve their future.

The therapist will then focus on one specific memory to target first. Once this is brought to mind, the client will follow the therapist’s hand with their eyes as it moves across their field of vision. In doing so, the client will be able to process the memory that is being targeted.

These treatments will often run over a course of eight or more sessions, with the eye movement element taking up at least one part of the session.

Whereas talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aim to change the behaviour of the client using prompts from the therapist, EMDR allows the client to accelerate their emotional processes so that they can transform their emotional response.

What is dissociative identity disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder is a psychological condition with many complexities. But what is it, how is it caused, and how can it be treated? Let’s discuss.

What is a dissociative disorder?

The three main types of dissociative disorders are:

  1. Depersonalisation-derealisation disorder

This is where people may have out-of-body experiences or feel that the world is not real.

  1. Dissociative amnesia

Sufferers may forget information, events, skills, or movements from their lives to a degree that is more severe than simply ‘forgetfulness’.

  1. Dissociative identity disorder

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is quite a severe dissociation. DID was once known as multiple personality disorder, and those with the condition are often unsure about their identity. They can also have additional identities, which can lead to not knowing who they are. Thus, the main symptoms are multiple personalities, and potential gaps in their memories.

What causes dissociative identity disorder?

The causation of DID is not thoroughly understood. Many people can develop DID as a psychological response to trauma, although this is not always the case.

Disassociation is thought to be the brain’s natural coping mechanism from a traumatic event. When triggered, the person can literally shut off from the world and their personal problems, switching their consciousness to a brand new identity.

Statistically, most people with DID have a history of recurring traumas during their core developmental years between birth and the age of six. This includes circumstances such as neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, unpredictable behaviour of a care giver, or other environmental factors.

How to spot dissociative identity disorder

People with DID will often have several distinct personalities, all of which will have names, ages, and differing behaviours. These personalities can be perceived as different ages to the person in question, and different genders. They are often referred to as ‘alters’.

It is thought that these different identities represent or manifest the differing ways that the individual, or ‘host’, relates to the world around them. Each alter can have different ways of thinking, which can conflict with one another, and cause the host to have amnesia when an alter is in control.

Who can treat dissociative identity disorder?

If you wish to treat DID as a mental health practitioner, it is crucial to undergo training that will enable you to suitably understand this condition. Here at nscience, we provide a broad range of dissociative identity disorder courses that can help both current and prospective therapists from around the world to equip themselves with specialised skills and knowledge.  

DID training is essential for understanding and treating the disorder, as often people will have been misdiagnosed – and then not suitably treated – for many years prior due to the similarities in symptoms to other mental health disorders.

People with DID are also at risk of simultaneously suffering from borderline personality disorders (BPD), mood swings, suicidal tendencies, phobias, substance abuse, compulsions, auditory and visual psychoses, eating disorders, sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety.

This can make clients with DID higher risk, and thus the utmost care and attention should be paid to ensuring the correct diagnosis and treatment.

DID can be treated with psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and movement therapy. However, this is simply a way to manage the disorder in the long term – there are no ‘cures’ or medications for the disorder at present.

With our series of workshops, seminars, conferences and courses here at nscience, we are committed to helping mental health professionals to be more effective in their work – including in relation to the treatment of dissociative disorders.

A Short Guide To Anxiety Training  

Anxiety comes in many forms and has several symptoms that can affect people differently. Managing and dealing with anxiety and those symptoms isn’t always an easy ride; it can take a long time and possibly several techniques for the sufferer to manage it.

Because there are so many types of anxiety disorder, there are also many ways to treat it. The training that goes into helping people with anxiety is designed to help people cope with the feelings and deal with them.

Here is a brief guide to anxiety training and what it requires and entails.

How does anxiety affect people?

Anxiety is a type of fear, which could arise from the unknown, or a future event. The fear for many sufferers of anxiety is that something will go wrong or happen that will embarrass or frighten them. Actual fear is usually a response to an immediate danger, but anxiety can become an ongoing problem with no specific cause or direction.

When dealing with how anxiety affects people, it is important to identify what type of anxiety a person has. This is where anxiety training for therapists can help identify and deal with the feelings.

There are several categories to try and diagnose the type of anxiety. These include:

● Agoraphobia

This type of anxiety usually affects people between 18 to 35 years old. It manifests itself as an intense anxiety that triggers a panic response that is associated with open spaces. The severity and symptoms can vary from person to person.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is one of the most common types of anxiety and usually affects young adults. However, GAD itself can last for many years, especially if left untreated. While everyone will have feelings of anxiety from time to time, those with GAD will have difficulty controlling these fears to the point where it affects their lives.

● Panic

The body has a normal response to fear, stress, or excitement. However, someone with a phobia will find that these feelings will manifest themselves at certain objects or in situations that are not the usual triggers. These feelings will often lead to people avoiding certain things that they know will trigger their panic feelings.

● Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Also known as a syndrome, PTSD is often developed after a traumatic event. The event itself will often be part of flashbacks, nightmares, and fear. People with PTSD will often avoid certain areas or situations that can trigger a panic attack.

● Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD will often involve the person getting repetitive feelings of panic or fear unless they do a particular thing. OCD is often used to describe tidy or organised people, but this isn’t the case.

What are some of the treatments in which you might seek training?

If you are a prospective or developing mental health professional who is interested in working with anxiety patients, there are various video courses, webinars, seminars, or events – as we can make available here at nscience – that you may wish to investigate in order to help boost your effectiveness in your work.

Such programmes of training could touch upon and explore areas of anxiety treatment like the below:  

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is often used to help with anxiety and is widely used by therapists. It has been shown to be effective for panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder and GAD.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is designed to help deal with the negative thought patterns and the distorted ways people with anxiety often view the world.

There are two main elements to CBT:

● Cognitive therapy looks at cognitions or negative thoughts and how they can trigger anxiety.

● Behaviour therapy looks at the situations that trigger anxiety and considers if this behaviour can be addressed.

In essence, CBT looks at how people with anxiety view situations and tries to show it is thoughts that lead to anxiety, and not the situations themselves.

When someone with anxiety is given a situation they find troubling, such as going to a crowded place, they will likely start to imagine how bad it will be, because those are the emotions that will be fuelling the thoughts.

Depending on how the mind views the situation, will dictate how someone feels about it.

Cognitive restructuring

Also known as thought challenging, this is a technique whereby the person with anxiety tries to change their negative thoughts to positive ones. There are three main components to this process:

● Identifying the negative thoughts that are making the situation seem more dangerous than it is in reality. It is important for the person to identify the negative thoughts they are having, and to try to see why they are feeling that way. Trying to rationalise these thoughts won’t always have the desired effect, but challenging them can be effective.

● Challenging negative thoughts consists of finding evidence that contradicts the fear the person has. This can include weighing up the pros and cons of a situation.

● Once the negative thoughts have been identified and challenged, the person can try to replace those with positive thoughts to change their perception.

This technique, together with exposure therapy, can be an effective way to break the negative cycle and replace it with a positive one.

Conclusion

Anxiety is a complex issue, and it can take several sessions to try and find the negativity in a patient and deal with it effectively.

However, with the latest advances in psychotherapy and new techniques, more people will be able to get the help they need. All the while, mental health practitioners who are trained in these up-to-the-minute methods will be particularly well-equipped to help make the most positive outcomes possible with their patients.

What Is Somatic Therapy?

Mental health is often treated by using techniques that work on the mind only; however, there are some therapies that go more into the whole body to treat mental health problems. One of these is somatic therapy, which uses techniques designed to work on the mind, body and spirit.

So, what is somatic therapy, and how can it help people with mental health issues?

Introducing somatic therapy

Somatic therapy is also known as somatic experiencing and somatic experiencing therapy. The therapy involves using the mind, body and spirit together to treat and heal.

Mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety are treated through a connection between the mind and the body. This is different from some other treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on the mind only.

There are many somatic therapy courses that aim to help teach what somatic therapy is, and how it can be effectively used by mental health professionals for the benefit of their clients.  

What are the different types of somatic therapy?

Somatic experiencing therapy is the most commonly used type; it is also the easiest. People are encouraged to talk about other therapies they have used and how they feel. With somatic therapy, they also discuss their physical feelings and sensations.

Mind and body exercises are then used which include visualisation, massage, dance, grounding, breath work and sensation awareness work.

Together with somatic experiencing therapy, there are also other types of therapy that use somatic therapy as the basis. These include:

Brainspotting

This therapy uses mind and bodywork, but also incorporates eye positioning to try and retrain emotional reactions.

● The Hakomi Method

This therapy focuses on four concepts: gentleness, nonviolence, compassion and mindfulness. It also uses scientific, psychological and spiritual sources.

Sensorimotor psychotherapy

This therapy uses the body to discover information together with intervention targets.

● Biodynamic psychotherapy

This is a combination of medical and holistic therapies that tries to deal with the understanding of energy.

How does somatic therapy work?

The idea behind somatic therapy is that what happens in your life not only affects your mind, but also impacts on your body. This means that if you work on both the mind and body together, you can overcome your mental health problems.

Some of the techniques used in somatic therapy include:

● Grounding

● Acting out of physical feelings and other movement activities

● Tools to help calm the person

● Using new tools to revisit and replay past situations

● Emotional release

● Strengthening boundaries

How effective is somatic therapy?

It has been shown that somatic therapy can be effective at dealing with many physical and psychological issues.

The treatment of PTSD has been seen to be an effective alternative to CBT. It seems to speed up the healing time from a traumatic event, although more studies are needed to see what patients will benefit the most from somatic therapy.

It has also been shown to have a positive effect on the treatment of chronic pain.

Conclusion

Somatic therapy still has some way to go before there is enough evidence to prove exactly how effective it is. However, the early signs are encouraging – and with the help of the courses available through nscience, mental health practitioners can continue to develop and maximise their knowledge and effectiveness in practising this kind of therapy.

Why behavioural therapy is becoming so popular 

Life can throw many things at you, and how you deal with those ups and downs can have an effect on your mental health. While it is important to try to put a positive spin on things, even at the worst times, some people have a harder job of doing that than others. This can lead to negative thoughts and problematic behaviour that treatments such as behavioural therapy can help to redress.

Let us see why behavioural therapy is becoming so popular and how it can help.

How is behavioural therapy used?

When someone’s mental health starts to harm their thoughts and actions, behavioural therapy can be used effectively to counteract these symptoms.

Therapists who have undergone couples therapy training courses often use behavioural therapy as a tool to help one or both partners.

A therapist will interact with the patient and try to identify any thought patterns that may cause unhealthy activities or beliefs.

People who have been through trauma or another serious event can suffer from these thoughts. Behavioural therapy has been shown to be successful in many cases.

The number of sessions required in order to help patients varies depending on the progress of the therapy. For ingrained and severe mental health problems, treatment may go on for some time.

Many areas of mental healthcare use behavioural therapy as a treatment. These include in relation to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Effective behavioural therapy techniques

Behavioural therapy has many types that are used as either a treatment or a preventative measure.

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy is used to identify unhealthy patterns and thought processes and encourage new thoughts.
  • Classroom teachers will often use behavioural therapy to promote a positive atmosphere and encourage students to do the same.
  • Parent training is designed to help parents enforce positive behaviour and deter negative thoughts and feelings. This is done by rewarding good behaviour and addressing any negative actions.
  • Peer counselling is a way to help students deal with negative thoughts and ideas through the support of their peers. This can be especially helpful if a student isn’t able to tell a teacher about their feelings.

The factors behind the increasing demand for behavioural therapy

Some reports suggest that behavioural therapy can be an effective alternative to medication. Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that doctors do not prescribe ADHD medication to those under six years of age until their parents have had behavioural therapy training.

Amid adverse other events such as the pandemic, many more people have experienced issues with their mental health. This has led to more referrals to doctors and therapists for treatment for depression and anxiety.

Conclusion

Behavioural therapy has shown that it is highly effective for a variety of mental health conditions. With doctors looking to avoid long-term medication, behavioural therapy is becoming a sought-after alternative. Many patients are also looking for non-medication avenues to deal with their mental health, and this type of therapy may be a good option for them.

3 simple tips to help sleep disorders

The term “sleep disorder” refers to any of a series of conditions that can impact on the quality, timing and durability of someone’s sleep. Common examples include – but are not limited to – insomnia, sleep apnoea, sleepwalking, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Such conditions, in turn, can impact on the sufferer’s ability to function when awake, and even potentially other medical issues.

With about one in five of us said to suffer from insomnia and/or other sleep disorders, it is clearly crucial to know how to react to problems sleeping, whether you are the sufferer yourself, or you are assisting the recovery of someone affected by such a disorder.

Here, then, are three widely recognised tips for helping to make sounder sleep possible.

Practise healthier habits away from the bedroom

As the NHS explains, there are important steps you can take to improve your sleep, long before you take to your bed each night. These include eating and drinking healthily, being careful not to consume too much food and alcohol. Refraining from caffeine and smoking can further help ensure you drift off to sleep when you need to do so.

Regular exercise can also aid your efforts to sleep better, although it is believed that vigorous exercise close to bedtime can actually have the opposite effect of keeping you awake. If, then, you are set to go to bed soon, moderate exercise – such as swimming or walking – could be better for gently relieving some of the tension that may have gathered in your body over the course of the day.

Expose yourself to the right light levels at the right times

If you have struggled with your sleep for a while, you have probably already heard of the body’s natural timekeeping clock, known as the circadian rhythm. It is effectively this that tells your body when it’s time to be awake, and when it’s time to go to sleep.

Unfortunately, though, certain environmental factors can disrupt the functioning of your circadian rhythm, and the light to which you are exposed over the course of each 24 hours can certainly be one such factor.

In a nutshell, you should look to increase your exposure to natural light or bright light during the day, and minimise your night-time light exposure. Particularly notorious as far as the latter is concerned is blue light, which is emitted by electronic devices like computers and smartphones.

So, if you’re in the habit of taking your smartphone or tablet to bed with you, this may be a habit to drop. It’s also probably a good idea to turn off all other bright lights two hours prior to heading to bed.

Adopt a sensible sleep schedule

In today’s world in which many of us are self-confessed ‘workaholics’, it can be easy to end up telling ourselves that we can’t “afford” a healthy sleep schedule. But you don’t necessarily need to get every aspect of your sleep schedule ‘perfect’ straight away; this can be an ongoing process of refinement.

Simply setting a fixed wake-up time to aspire to, for example, can help get you into a healthy routine, taking you away from the temptation to try to get up super-early on working days, and ‘sleep in’ on your days off. This, in turn, will allow your body to get accustomed to a steady sleep schedule over time.

If you are a current or aspiring mental health professional who wishes to assist those suffering from sleep disorders, you may be interested in the wide range of options for UK therapist training that we make available at nscience. Feel free to browse our in-depth selection of workshops, seminars and courses that could aid you in getting better results from your work with sleep disorder sufferers.