Therapy for Sleep Issues
“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
You’re not alone
What Are Sleep Disorders?
Has there ever been a night where you spent the entire time tossing and turning, unable to find sleep?
No adult is a stranger to losing out on a night of sleep. You could be stressed by a deadline from school or work, dreading a confrontation with someone you love, or maybe you just drank too much coffee. However, if you frequently find yourself unable to sleep — lying awake in bed night after night and greeting the morning with a bone-deep weariness — it might be a sign of a deeper problem: a sleep disorder.
The term “sleep disorder” is a broad one. It includes any condition that impacts your ability to get a good night’s sleep, resulting in fatigue and sleepiness during the day. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), and disturbances to your circadian rhythm (e.g. jet lag, shift work).
Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep issues. Unfortunately, sleep disorders often heighten the risk of other physical and mental health problems. Examples include depression, obesity, heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Lack of sleep also tends to lead to a higher risk of injury, lower work productivity, poorer quality of life, and increased healthcare costs.
What Do Sleep Disorders Feel Like?
Unsure if you’re suffering from a sleep disorder or just a bad string of nights?
Here are a few questions you can try asking yourself.
Do you often:
- Feel sleepy during the day or take frequent naps to keep yourself awake?
- Feel like you need caffeine to keep yourself awake?
- Find it hard to concentrate?
- React slowly (e.g. trying to catch something before it falls)?
- Find it difficult to control your emotions (e.g. crying easily, being constantly irritable)?
- Doze off or feel very fatigued while driving or doing other monotonous activities (e.g. data entry at an office job)?
- Doze off or feel very fatigued while reading, watching television, or sitting still?
- Get told by other people that you look tired?
These are all common signs of sleep deprivation. If you’ve been experiencing them regularly over a prolonged period of time, it might be a sleep disorder. The more questions you answer “yes” to, the more likely it is that you’re dealing with one.
common types of sleep disorders
To help you narrow it down further, here is a rundown of the most common types of sleep disorders.
- Insomnia: When you have insomnia, you’ll find it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you wake up too early, you likely won’t be able to go back to sleep. It can be caused by many different factors, such as a health condition, stress, the medications you take, and other mood disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression).
- Narcolepsy: When you have narcolepsy, you’ll be subject to random, excessive, and uncontrollable bouts of daytime sleepiness. These “sleep attacks” can happen even in the middle of activities (e.g. working, talking, or driving.) It’s caused by a malfunction in the part of your brain that controls sleeping and waking.
- Sleep apnea: When you have sleep apnea, your breathing involuntarily and temporarily stops during sleep. This causes your body to wake up. You may not remember waking up during the night, but you’ll definitely feel exhausted during the day. You are at greater risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, older than 50 years old, and have been told that you snore loudly.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS): When you have RLS, you’ll experience a nearly-irresistible urge to move your limbs when you’re lying down or resting. The urge might be accompanied by tingly, itchy, achy, or creeping sensations.
- Disturbances to circadian rhythm: Our bodies run on their own 24-hour clocks, mainly dictated by light. During the day, your brain signals that your body should be awake. At night, it signals your body should be asleep. Shift work (i.e. working early morning shifts, night shifts, or rotating shifts) or jet lag can easily disturb your internal clock, resulting in difficulty falling asleep.
If any of these sound similar to your own situation, you may want to consider getting sleep therapy. Sleep therapy can help you overcome your sleep issues and allow your mind and body to properly rest and recharge.
THERAPISTS WHO CAN HELP
Therapists Who Specialize in Therapy for Sleep Issues in NYC
Connecting with the right therapist is the most important factor in your search. We’re here to help you find a great match.
What Does Therapy for sleep issues Look Like?
The main form of therapy used for sleep issues is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on addressing thought patterns, physical symptoms, and behaviors to treat an issue. When it’s used for insomnia specifically, it’s sometimes called CBT-I.
The goal of CBT is to teach you to recognize thoughts and behaviors that affect your ability to sleep and replace them with habits that promote good sleep.
For example, if a racing mind is what’s keeping you awake at night, your therapist might task you with challenging your negative thoughts. (e.g. “I’m never going to be able to sleep well” vs. “Sleep issues are curable and I’ll eventually be able to beat them”).
On the other hand, if your sleep problems are caused by habits like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not getting proper exercise, etc., your therapist might encourage better sleep by changing your basic habits (e.g. learning how to wind down at least an hour before bedtime).
Of course, these aren’t the only methods for addressing sleep issues. Other approaches like optimizing your sleeping area, restricting your sleep time, stimulus control therapy, remaining passively awake, relaxation training, or monitoring biological signs are also often used. In the end, it comes down to the approach that you and your therapist figure out works best for you.
Helpful Tips and SLEEP HYGIENE Best Practices
If you aren’t ready to start therapy yet, here are a few practical tips you can implement to improve your sleep.
- Avoid daytime naps
- Don’t watch TV, use the computer, or read in bed
- Go to bed around the same time each night
- Don’t lay in bed for more than 15 minutes awake
- Exercise preferably in the morning or early afternoon
- Create a comfortable sleeping environment, ensuring your bedroom is dark, cool, and free of noise
- Limit caffeine consumption and substances that interfere with sleep such as nicotine, alcohol and some over-the-counter medications
get help for sleep issues in NYC
We can help.
We offer many therapeutic options to treat sleep issues. Learn the strategies you need to manage troublesome symptoms so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Reach out and schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our NYC therapists who specialize in sleep issues today.