Sleep is vital to healthy functioning and wellness and yet insomnia and other sleep disturbances are among the most common complaints by people. About 30% of the population report sleep disturbances at some point in their life while 10% of the population are affected by an insomnia disorder (Morin, 2010).
Insomnia is most prevelant in women, women, older adults, shift workers, amongst individuals with lower socioeconomic status,and those with poor physical and mental health (Morin, 2010).
Symptoms of Sleep Problems (from American Psychiatric Association, 2000)
- Dissatisfaction with quality, duration or continuity of sleep
- Difficulty faling asleep at bedtime
- Waking up in the middle of the night with difficulty falling back asleep
- Waking too early in the morning with an inability to fall back asleep
- Daytime fatigue
- Cognitive difficulties such as attention, concentration and memory
- Mood disturbances such as irritability, sadness, depression
- Impaired ability to function in social, family or occupational environments
Effects of Chronic Insomnia and Sleep Problems:
- Reduced quality of life
- Increased absenteeism
- Reduced productivity at work
- Higher health care costs
- It is associated with increased risk of depression
- Chronic use of hypnotics (sleep pills)
- Cognitive Impairment which can look like Adult Onset ADHD
- Increased use of alcohol to assist in sleeping or mixing alcohol and sleeping pills
The treatment path usually goes through a physician or psychiatrists in which treatment often involves sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can be useful in selected situations but they are not without risk for developing both physical and psychological (believe you need pills to get good sleep) addiction (Morin, 2010). It is important to rule physical reasons for sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea (obstructed breathing), Narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia or other organic causes. Once there is no determination of organic cause, looking at psychological and behavioral approaches has a very good outcome.
Evidenced based studies have shown excellent outcome for treating insomnia and sleep disturbances through the use of Psychological and Behavioural Treatment Approaches (Morin, 2010). Outcome studies based on nonpharmacological treatments for insomnia have shown very good outcomes for individuals engaging in psychological and behavioral approaches (Murtagh & Greenwood, 1995).
Psychological & Behavioral Approach to Treating Sleep Disturbances
- Assessing Sleep Hygiene
- Teaching Stress Management and Relaxation Skills
- Using Cognitive Therapy to explore thoughts around person's ability to sleep
- Assessing for any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to sleep disturbances
- If using sleep pills, applying a harm reduction to wean off the sleeping pills and support individual through rebound insomnia
All in the Family Mental Health Counsellors are trained in assessment and diagnosis can help evaluate any underlying causes contributing to your sleep disorder. In addition, if you feel you are dependent on sleeping pills or alcohol we can work with you to address concerns as well. Most important is to get a proper evaluation and then treatment plan to help resolve your sleep issues. For questions please contact us at 9030 7239 to find out how we might help you.
Morin, C.M.(2010). Chronic Insomnia: Recent advances advances and innovations in treatment developments and dissemination. Canadian Psychological Association, 51(1), 31-39.
Murtagh, D.R.R. & Greenwood, K.M. (1995). Identifying effective psychological treatment for insomnia: A meta-analysis. The American Psychological Association, 3(1), 79-89.