Insomnia and Related Problems: What Works?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep?
- Do you wake up in the middle of the night and then find that you can't get back to sleep?
- Are you sleepy and lethargic during the day, but full of energy when it's time to go to bed?
- Do you get what should be more than enough sleep during the night, but still feel as if you're short of sleep all day?
The term "insomnia" is used to describe a variety of conditions in which a person's sleep is inadequate or abnormal. This includes such problems as difficulty going to sleep, frequent awakenings, too short a sleep time, premature awakenings with difficulty getting back to sleep, and sleep which is "non-restorative." Studies have estimated that the number of people in the USA who complain of insomnia is in the millions.
Insomnia can be a symptom of some other problem or disease, or it can be a basic, root problem in itself (primary insomnia). It is important to determine the nature of the insomnia and its cause in order to determine appropriate treatment. In addition, daytime consequences associated with insomnia must be evaluated. Insomnia may be associated with problems such as daytime sleepiness and/or fatigue, impaired daytime functioning, as well as emotional stress including anxiety and depression. Insomnia may also be associated with other specific sleep disorders, a variety of medical problems, reactions to medications, drugs, caffeinated beverages, or alcohol use. Finally, sleep rhythm disruptions such as shift work or jet-lag can cause or aggravate insomnia.
Successful treatment for insomnia depends upon accurate diagnosis. Primary insomnia and insomnia associated with emotional stress can often be treated by such methods as education concerning good sleep hygiene, behavioral and relaxation training, and counseling or psychotherapy. Hypnotic medications (i.e., "sleeping pills") are usually only effective if used for short periods of time or used intermittently, as prescribed by a physician. With habitual and continual use, some sleep medications can be habit forming and may become ineffective because of the development of tolerance. Insomnia related to sleep rhythm disruptions can be treated by behavioral methods, chronotherapy (a systematic method for stepwise adjustment of the sleep/wake rhythm), and/or light therapy.
Insomnia associated with medical problems or reactions to medications should be evaluated by physicians who are knowledgeable about sleep and how it is affected by medical disorders and medications. It is the policy and practice of the Center of Conscious Living to refer patients whose insomnia may be the result of medical disease, medications, or medical sleep disorders to an accredited sleep disorder clinic or an appropriate medical doctor for evaluation.
Dr. Stephen Lloyd, a licensed clinical psychologist at the Center for Conscious Living, worked for many years at an accredited sleep disorder clinic as a researcher and clinician. He is knowledgeable regarding the assessment and treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders. If you are troubled by insomnia or other sleep problems, we are ready to assist you with appropriate behavioral treatments and/or medical referral.