How many nights have you spent tossing and turning while trying to fall asleep? Once you fall asleep, you wake up a couple hours later and the tossing and turning begins again. It becomes a terrible cycle of attempting to sleep while looking at the clock. Many of us will start calculating how many hours of sleep we will have if we can fall asleep in the next few minutes. Sometimes we are able to fall asleep rather quickly and other times, not so much.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. There is acute and chronic insomnia. There are many reasons which can cause insomnia, some of which are stress, change in sleep pattern, change of shift at work, anxiety, caffeine, depression, medication, eating late, exercising late and the list goes on. Knowing the cause can help with treatment and a resolution.
There are also several risk factors associated with insomnia. Women experience insomnia more than men. This does not mean that men do not suffer from insomnia, it just means that their stats are lower. Another risk factor is age, if you are over 60 you are more likely to experience this issue, as insomnia increases with age as sleep patterns change with age. Another risk factor is work, if you have a varied schedule this changes your sleep schedule and you may find it difficult adjusting to the new sleep pattern. Jet lag is also a risk factor for insomnia, so if you travel for your job, be aware of this issue.
Here are some treatment suggestions for acute insomnia:
1. Decrease stress: Utilize stress reduction techniques such as taking a walk, deep breathing, speaking with a trusted loved one, managing your time better and progressive muscle relaxation.
2. Caffeine: Decrease or ban caffeine from your diet, as this will help with sleep for most people as caffeine is a stimulant. Some people can have caffeine right before they go to sleep and they do not have any sleep issues. However, other people should slowly decrease their caffeine intake if it is disrupting sleep.
3. Utilize Sleep Hygiene: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday, including weekends. Utilize your bedroom for sleep and sex only. Have a set routine before bed and do that routine at the same time every night. You want your body to start associating your bedtime routine and bedroom with sleep.
4. Exercise: Research states that exercising for 30 minutes, three to four times per week consistently, will help improve your sleep over time.
5. Non-Preferred Activity: If you cannot sleep after 15 minutes, get up and do an activity you will not enjoy. An example would be cleaning the toilet and bathroom. If you hate cleaning the bathroom, this is the activity to do when you cannot sleep. If you do an activity you enjoy such as reading or watching TV you are stimulating your mind with joy. You want to sleep, not watch TV. Try a non preferred activity, you will be surprised how often this works for acute insomnia.
If you suffer from chronic insomnia, you may want to consult your healthcare provider who can assist with a sleep study and treatment plan.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a replacement for therapy or treatment.
Sleep deprivation is something we have all experienced. Whether it was staying up all night in school to study for an exam or just not being able to fall asleep. If you slept 6 hours or less you are considered sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can be chronic or acute. If you are working two jobs and you are generally sleeping 6 hours or less, this is considered chronic sleep deprivation. If you occasionally find yourself sleeping 6 hours or less, it is considered acute sleep deprivation.
Chronic sleep deprivation can have long term effects, acute sleep deprivation has short term effects and with proper sleep these consequences disappear. Regardless of whether you have acute or chronic sleep deprivation there are consequences for not sleeping enough or sleeping well. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep to function properly. Each of us may have a different baseline for appropriate sleep. An adult generally needs 7-9 hours of sleep and children need more sleep based on their age.
Effects of lack of sleep:
1. Decreased cognitive skills: The list of cognitive issues with sleep deprivation is long, here are several: difficulty making decisions, decreased judgment, poor memory, word finding issues, difficulty with thinking and processing information as well as sustained attention and concentration.
2. Motor skills: You may find that you become less agile and that you are clumsy. You are more likely to knock things over, and your reaction time may be slowed.
3. Mood: You may find that you are grumpy, feel easily overwhelmed and may feel more stressed. You may feel irritable and find you may cry easily. You may also experience fatigue and find you are tired and no longer desire to participate in pleasurable activities.
4. Weight gain: Research states that lack of sleep increases a hunger hormone so you may find yourself hungry all day when you are sleep deprived.
5. Increased blood pressure: Sleep deprivation increases blood pressure and can increase your risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
6. Weakened immune system: Lack of sleep can decrease your immune system and you may find that you are more susceptible to colds and viruses.
Research suggests that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to dying younger, increased risk for major illnesses as well as safety issues such as car accidents and on the job injuries. If this is a chronic issue for you, please discuss this with your physician. If you are suffering from acute sleep deprivation, here are a few helpful tips to assist with insomnia: www.droshea.com/blog/insomnia-i-need-more-sleep
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a replacement for treatment or therapy.
Dr. Deb is a successful Psychologist who practices in New York City. She is an Anxiety Specialist who works with adolescents and adults providing both individual and couples counseling.