Sleep plays a crucial role in your mental health, physical well-being, safety, productivity and quality of life. During sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function, repair and heal from injury and illness, and maintain physical health. Sleep deficiency can affect how well you learn, think, react, work, and relate to others – being deprived of sleep can diminish your ability to make effective decisions, trouble shoot problems, control emotions and cope with change.
Current research suggests that sleep deprivation is linked with depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior and can substantially increase your risk of chronic health problems including obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
At Endeavor Psychology, we focus on the relationship between mental and physical health. We realize that quality sleep is a vital ingredient needed to achieve and maintain a healthy mind-body balance. We have extensive experience utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques and stimulus control to help clients implement effective sleep hygiene practices and manage sleep disorders.
How do I know if I have a sleep problem?
If you have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping through the night, if you wake up too early or have a hard time waking up at all, or if you are overly tired during the day, you may have a sleep problem or sleep disorder.
Sleep can be impacted by a number of conditions including: stress, chronic illness, pregnancy, psychiatric disorders, menopause and aging. While a doctor or health psychologist specializing in sleep disorders can help you diagnose and understand why you may be having difficulty sleeping, the following is a list of common sleep problems, their causes and sleep disorder symptoms:
- Acute Insomnia: Brief period during which it is difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep; often results from life circumstances (e.g., stressors at school, work or life changes) and may resolve without treatment.
- Chronic Insomnia: Disrupted sleep occurring at least three nights per week and lasting at least three months. May have many causes, including environment, poor sleep hygiene, medications, and physical disorders.
- Sleep Apnea: Caused by blockage in the upper airway that interrupts regular breathing for short periods of time, which wakes you up. Can be associated with high blood pressure, risk of stroke and heart attack and can be very serious if left untreated.
- Circadian Rhythm Disorders: Caused by changes in the body’s internal “clock” that drive natural sleep and alertness rhythms; many people experience Circadian Rhythm Disorders in the form of jet lag or delayed sleep phase syndromes (you fall asleep and wake up either too late or too early).
- Narcolepsy: Chronic neurological disorder that affects the area of the brain that regulates sleep. Narcolepsy can cause extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden loss of muscle control, often triggered by strong emotions. While the cause of narcolepsy is not yet fully understood, evidence suggests that genetics and environmental triggers (e.g., viruses) may affect your brain chemicals and cause narcolepsy.
How can Endeavor Psychology help me with my sleep disorders?
Treatment for sleep disorders varies as widely as the disorders themselves, and may include counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes. At Endeavor Psychology our approach to treating sleep disorders is tailored to meet the unique needs of clients and the challenges they are facing. We draw heavily on a number of techniques that have proven to be effective in managing, resolving and coping with sleep disorders, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which focuses on changing behaviors (eliminating naps, implementing regular early exercise, standardizing bedtime) and unhealthy “cognitions” – thoughts, beliefs and fears – that may impede quality sleep. Even for individuals with acute sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be an effective part of a therapeutic plan designed to help control emotional stressors that may trigger and/or intensify symptoms.
- Relaxation Training, which teaches the client techniques to calm the body and ready for sleep. Mindfulness, meditation, and guided imagery are all approaches that we leverage to assist clients in dealing with sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
- Psychotherapy, which focuses on helping clients deal with stressors that may contribute to sleep problems and deal with mental and physical health challenges implicated in sleep disorders, including depression, anxiety and adjustment to injury and illness.
If you or someone you care about is seeking support in dealing with a sleep problem or diagnosed sleep disorder, please contact us for a consultation.