Do You Need to Get Your Sleep Schedule Back on Track?
Everyone has had a night where you just can’t fall asleep no matter how hard you try. It’s natural to have isolated occasions of a sleepless night here and there, but when it becomes chronic, then it’s a problem. This condition is called insomnia, and we can help you take steps to cure it so you can get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is an all-too-common problem for many different people.
When you have insomnia, it can be difficult to fall asleep. You may lay in bed for hours, staring at the clock with no relief in sight. Or you might fall asleep, only to wake up a few minutes later or much too early for a full night of sleep. Insomnia causes sleep deprivation, which can be dangerous if it continues for too many sleepless nights.
Insomnia is a Widespread Problem
Insomnia is a frustrating condition, defined as an inability to fall or remain asleep, which affects 30 – 60% of the population. Chronic insomnia can result in fatigue, mood disturbance, difficulty with focus, and poor performance at school or work. Insomnia can have many causes and is often associated with other underlying conditions which should be ruled out by a medical professional, including endocrine or gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory issues, or neurological conditions. Sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea can cause insomnia as well.
Symptoms of Insomnia
People with insomnia can be irritable or show other signs of mental distress like anxiety, depression or panic attacks. Insomnia can create a feeling of excessive fatigue and the necessity to sleep during the day. Because of your sleep deprivation, it can be dangerous to drive or to do tasks that require mental focus. The side effects of insomnia are downright dangerous, so it’s important to treat your lack of sleep.
Causes of Insomnia
The causes of insomnia vary, but in most cases can be treated or your behaviors can be changed. A common reason for insomnia is stress. You may be lying in bed every night worried about money, the future or your job, and that worry is keeping you awake. If you’ve suffered something life-changing like a death or job loss, the side effects of that event could be the inability to sleep. Here are some of the many other causes of insomnia:
- Use of devices: The digital world is creating sleep problems for many people. Devices like smartphones, iPads, and laptops can interfere with your sleep and cause your brain to want to stay awake. When electronics are brought into bed with you the brain no longer associates the bedroom with sleep, thus causing you to have insomnia.
- Work or travel: Insomnia can be caused by having an unusual schedule that interferes with normal sleep. For instance, if you work on the graveyard shift or travel often, then your body’s circadian rhythm won’t have a chance to reset. Inconsistent sleep schedules work to disrupt your body temperature and natural internal clock, and it can be hard to easily fall asleep.
- Eating too late: If you love to have a late-night snack, then you may be sending your body the wrong message when it comes to falling asleep. Whether it’s a late dinner or hot beverage your brain may be interpreting the ingestion of food as a signal to wake up. Eating late at night can also give you acid reflux or heartburn, which can make it uncomfortable to fall asleep.
- Medical conditions: There may be an underlying medical condition that’s causing your insomnia. We can help you narrow down the possible causes of your insomnia and advise you if you may need to see your physician about the problem.
Whatever the cause of your sleep problems, we can help you regain the sleep that you need to function and live a happier, healthier life.
How We Help
The Ross Center has expertise in treating insomnia from a mental health perspective. Once a medical workup has been completed to rule out underlying medical issues, we conduct an assessment to determine factors affecting your sleep. Anxiety and depression can be the primary disorder causing insomnia, and we then provide evidence-based treatment to address these issues. There are often lifestyle issues, like shift work or poor sleep habits, that can contribute to insomnia. Research shows that a form of cognitive behavior therapy designed specifically to treat insomnia generates very positive results.
How Does CBT Impact Insomnia?
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an effective and safe way to combat insomnia. In CBT, you’ll follow a structured program to help you identify and replace negative thoughts that make it more difficult for you to sleep at night. Finding ways to overcome these underlying causes will help you eliminate negative thoughts while also allowing you to develop better sleep habits. Our therapists can also recommend various treatment options to help you effectively overcome insomnia without the need for sleep aids.
A popular CBT treatment option includes stimulus control therapy because it focuses on you setting a specific time for you to sleep and to wake up each day. Other options include sleep restriction, relaxation training, sleep hygiene, biofeedback, and sleep environment improvement. All of these treatment options have various advantages, so a therapist may combine multiple treatments to help you overcome your insomnia problems.
Dealing with sleep problems is a frustrating experience that isn’t easy to fix on your own. Not being able to fall asleep or to develop a consistent sleep schedule can eventually lead to long-term medical conditions. A lack of sleep negatively impacts the quality of your life, such as increasing irritability and making it difficult to focus. However, choosing to use CBT is one of the most effective ways to help people with insomnia overcome these problems and live a much healthier and fulfilling life.
You’ll find that insomnia is highly treatable at The Ross Center, and we’ll help you improve the quality and duration of your sleep.