Most of us have struggled to get to sleep at some time in our lives. Maybe you have tossed and turned unable to get to sleep during a stressful time, that once past, sleep returns to normal. For many people though, sleep is a nightly struggle that is more than just an inconvenience.
It is estimated that there are over 70 different sleep disorders. Ongoing problems with sleep cause health complications and distress for the sufferer and often for the spouse or parent too.
Sleep difficulties are among the most common problems we encounter in private practice and effect children and adults alike.
The most regular complaint people describe is trouble getting to or staying asleep. The time it should take to fall asleep is about 15 to 20 minutes. But it may take much longer, leading to feelings of frustration, anxiety and even depression. While the causes of insomnia vary, being unable to shut off a racing mind is a common culprit. Many turn to alcohol, drugs or additive medications to help nod off, but then have unrefreshing, poor quality sleep and wake up tired. Bad quality sleep is often no better than no sleep.
Sometimes sleep problems, like insomnia or nightmares, can be a secondary symptom of depression, anxiety, trauma or other disorders. For people who have recurrent nightmares, the thought of sleep can overwhelm them with dread. In the dream state, we can be defenseless from our inner conflicts and turmoil. In such cases, getting help for the primary problem can be the start to getting your sleep back on track. Medications can help in the short-term, but psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help resolve the underlying problems.
To improve sleep, the starting point is to fully understand the sleep problem and this might include keeping a sleep diary to see any patterns. We can then suggest techniques to help, such as relaxation and sleep hygiene strategies. Often, just small changes to the bed-time routine can make a huge difference. Mobile phones, tablets and TV can be an enemy of good sleep and turning screens off at least one-hour before bed can help. For severe sleep problems, getting a full psychiatric assessment and review of medications can also be very helpful.
Getting your sleep in order can do wonders for your health, quality of life and sense of well-being. We will spend about a third of our life sleeping, so why not make your night not just a good night, but a great one. For help with sleep Contact Us.
by Lydia Rigano