Common Treatments for Sleep Disorders

Common Treatments for Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorder treatments fall into a variety of categories, including sleep hygiene, psychotherapy, medications ranging from mild over-the-counter sleep aids to powerful sleep sedatives and hypnotics, and holistic approaches. It is not uncommon for two or more treatment approaches to be used concurrently. Sleep Hygiene Sleep hygiene is defined as the various practices put into place to support normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness (National Sleep Foundation). It includes habits such as avoiding napping; decreasing or eliminating stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol; getting enough exercise; establishing a bedtime routine; and arranging the bedroom for optimal sleep (i.e., decreasing the temperature, eliminating unnecessary light, and removing technology devices). It can also include such practices as avoiding clock watching when in bed, exposing oneself to bright light or sunlight after waking, refraining from large meals before bedtime, and keeping a regular wake and bedtime schedule. While sleep hygiene can help the average person address general sleep difficulties, it alone is not sufficient to overpower the symptoms of major sleep disorders. With true sleep disorders, a combination of multiple treatment approaches earns the most effective results. Therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy, which looks at the relationships between the mind, body, emotions, behaviors, and illness, is the gold standard of therapeutic care for treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia. This therapeutic approach helps clients to make behavioral changes to improve sleep hygiene, while also changing thought patterns to decrease the catastrophic thinking, anger, frustration, or hopelessness that is common for clients struggling with sleep disorders. Therapeutic tools like sleep journals, cognitive restructuring, guided imagery, and hypnosis can help clients...
The Basics of Sleep

The Basics of Sleep

“Sufficient sleep is not a luxury – it is a necessity – and should be thought of as a vital sign of good health.” ~ Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS, Director, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. It’s not uncommon for clients we work with to experience difficulty sleeping from time to time. Perhaps there is a major life event occurring, or things have been very stressful at work. In these cases, however, the client’s challenges with falling or staying asleep are short-term, situational, and dependent on external life circumstances. Acute sleep difficulties such as these are vastly different from the chronic and consequential problems of a sleep disorder, which are ongoing and much more problematic. Defined as difficulties falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at the wrong times, sleeping too much, or abnormal behaviors during sleep (University of Maryland Medical Center), sleep disorders affect approximately 70 million Americans today (Cleveland Clinic). There are approximately 80-100 different types of sleep disorders that fall into the following four main categories (University of Maryland Medical Center): Insomnia – Defined as problems falling and staying asleep, insomnia can be short-term (lasting 3 weeks or less) or chronic and long lasting, often plaguing a client for months or years. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness – Defined as problems staying awake, excessive daytime sleepiness can be caused by the sleep disorder Narcolepsy. It can also be caused by medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, low thyroid function, or viral illnesses such as mononucleosis. Sleep Rhythm Problems – Defined as problems following a regular sleep schedule, sleep rhythm problem is often...