Did you know that adult insomnia is recognized as a serious public health problem by the CDC? Not only is insufficient sleep associated with car accidents, industrial disasters, and work-related errors, but people who have insomnia are more likely to have problems such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, and some cancers. Sleepy-heads also feel less productive overall, have difficulty concentrating and remembering things, have headaches, feel tired, have a general sense of malaise, and are more irritable than those who feel well rested after a good night sleep. I guess that cliché of getting up on the wrong side of the bed IS based on some truth!
Insomnia has many forms and can have many causes such as chronic pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and young children who sleep horizontal in your bed and kick you in the back (not that this happens to me!), and poor sleep habits (like reading or playing games on your phone while in bed). Regardless of the form and cause, insomnia has these characteristics: 1) difficulty falling asleep, 2) difficulty staying asleep, 3) waking up too early, and 4) poor quality sleep. These things have to occur for 3 or more nights in a row and have had to be present for at least 3 months.
Now, most of us have experienced problems sleeping at one time or another, sometimes for several nights in a row. This is common when we are feeling stressed out or anxious about something. But when a person starts to have insomnia that lasts for several months or years then this is the time to seek some professional help!
Medications are typically thought of as the first approach to treating insomnia. Although medications can be effective at first, after a fairly short time they lose their effectiveness and can have negative side effects, including becoming dependent on them. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a great alternative to medication for insomnia. CBT has been found to be as effective as medication in the short term AND long term. CBT for insomnia is a standard treatment that works to change a person’s sleep habits, environmental influences, thoughts, and emotions that contribute to insomnia. And the amazing thing, besides the incredible effectiveness of CBT for insomnia, is that it is a super brief treatment…generally lasting between only 4-6 sessions!
Keep your eyes open for more information about insomnia, in general, and CBT for insomnia treatment, specifically, through my blog posts.
Until then, sleep well!