Sleep disorders can become very problematic. It can be a symptom of depression or anxiety. It can also simply be a result of someone having a too-busy schedule and too much to think about. However, if the lack of sleep continues for a period of time, it could lead to serious emotional and/or thought disorders. Lack of sleep can contribute to an inability to focus leading to an increase of accidents, a significant decrease in problem solving skills and judgment, and impaired of short-term memory. Sleep deprivation can also lead to other serious problems. Studies have shown that 90% of people suffering from sleep deprivation also develop another health issue. These may include:
- Weight gain
- Aging skin
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
How Can a Therapist Help?
The best approach is for a medical professional, who can prescribe medication, to work in conjunction with a therapist. A therapist can help develop routines before and while going to bed that will increase the probability of sleep. Such a routine may include:
- Training your body by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day
- Limiting naps to 15 to 20 minutes early in the afternoon
- Exercising during the day and trying to get as much exposure to sunlight as you can
- Avoiding bright lights 1 to 2 hours before going to bed and when it’s time to sleep
- Making sure the room is dark
- Limiting caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for several hours before going to sleep;
- Avoiding activity in bed that can stimulate the brain such as watching TV, using your computer, or checking social media;
- Practice relaxation exercises before going to bed such as deep breathing; progressive muscle relaxation and imagery of peaceful places and situations.
If you do wake up in the middle of the night, as many do, there are some tips to try:
- Do not focus on not sleeping. Though this is hard to do, it can be accomplished by focusing on something else. Focus on how your body feels, particularly when deep breathing or thinking about a relaxing scene.
- Focus on relaxation rather than trying to sleep. Again, deep breathing; progressive muscle relaxation and imagery of peaceful places and situations, will get someone back to sleep much quicker than wondering why sleep is escaping them.
- Try a low-key, peaceful activity.If someone does not return to sleep within 15 minutes of waking, it may be better to get out of bed and try a relaxing activity. This type of activity may include stretching exercises or taking deep breaths while standing up. But be sure to keep the lights dim and avoid cell or computer screens as they trigger you to wake more.
- Write you worries away. If light activity does not prompt sleepiness, and if worrying is keeping you awake, write what is bothering you on a piece of paper. Put the paper away and make a self-pledge not to think about that until morning. Then resume the low-key activity.
Schedule an Appointment at Thriveworks Franklin
These are only a sample of techniques that may help. Seeking a professional counselor can help you select a routine that works best for you. The professionals at Thriveworks Franklin have years of training and experience in the treatment of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. They can help you develop a plan to address sleep disorders that would be tailor-made for each individual person. If you are suffering from insomnia, set up an appointment with a mental health professional at Thriveworks Franklin by calling (617) 360-7210.