Are Sleepless Nights And Anxiety About A Lack Of Sleep Impacting You?
Do you have difficulty falling or staying asleep multiple days a week? Are you constantly worried about what will happen if you do not get the amount of sleep you desire?
Maybe you are trying to overcompensate with naps or canceling plans, but despite your efforts, you continuously feel exhausted throughout the day. Perhaps your sleep routine and sleep disturbances are interfering with work, school, or personal activities.
Insomnia Is Not Just About Sleep Difficulties—It Is So Much More
Most people have occasional difficulty initiating sleep or staying asleep and can easily remember those sleepless nights on the couch. However, people with insomnia experience these difficulties at least three times a week for at least three months. Insomnia Disorder may occur in isolation (without other ailments) or alongside other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you have been diagnosed with Insomnia Disorder, you may also experience anxiety and worry about the quality of your sleep or the next-day effects of a poor night’s sleep. Perhaps you attempt to “make up for” a poor night’s sleep by sleeping in, napping, or canceling morning obligations. Paradoxically, these worries and attempts to compensate tend to increase sleep difficulties in the long term.
While an occasional sleepless night can be annoying, without treatment, insomnia disorder can turn your life upside down. But help is available. At The OCD & Anxiety Center, we specialize in helping individuals learn how to break these cycles.
Sleep Is A Necessity, But Anxiety About Sleep Does Not Need To Be
Insomnia is one of the most common but neglected conditions. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2020, 14.5% of adults had trouble falling asleep most days or every day in the past 30 days.* And the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that 30-35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15-20% have short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia disorder.**
While difficulties with sleep are common in society, the negative impact of it on an individual’s physical health and their mental health does not need to be. Sleep enhances cognitive function, boosts our immune system, regulates appetite, and assists with emotional regulation. But these aspects of an individual’s life do not need to continue to be impacted by their lack of sleep.
The Reasons Why Some People Struggle With Insomnia
There are many reasons why individuals may struggle with sleep, or there may be no reason at all. They may struggle because of their schedule, especially if they work nights. In addition, some might also have a medical condition or take certain medications that make it harder to sleep. For others, lifestyle factors, including frequent travel, screen time, a newborn baby, and other life stressors can impact sleep quality.
Even though your reasons for struggling with a sleep disorder might differ from those of other people, treatment can help you identify possible factors that are making it challenging to initiate or maintain sleep. An insomnia therapist can teach you skills and assist you with creating new routines and patterns to break your existing patterns.
Insomnia Treatment Can Reduce The Anxiety Brought On By Sleep Difficulties
Worries about insomnia may have become an ever-present part of your life, but with treatment, you can learn how to manage the anxiety associated with not sleeping. In therapy, you will learn about the benefits of a consistent sleep routine and the components of healthy sleep hygiene.
What To Expect From Insomnia Treatment Sessions
Therapy sessions are focused on providing you with evidence-based treatment to reduce the impact of your insomnia on your daily life and, hopefully, increase your amount of sleep as well.
During sessions, you will gain information about insomnia, what contributes to it, and how to make changes to your sleep schedule that encourage high-quality, more efficient sleep. More specifically, your insomnia therapist will teach you how to combat and reframe unhelpful thoughts that are impacting your sleep and work with you to create new patterns and routines that lead to improved sleep.
Insomnia Treatment Methods
The most evidence-based treatment for insomnia disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). This approach combines sleep restriction, sleep hygiene, and thought reframing. CBT-I is very structured, goal-oriented, and skills-based. Sessions build upon each other, help you manage anxiety related to not sleeping, reframe unhelpful thoughts, and ultimately help you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer.
Sleep Restriction Therapy will help you make changes to your sleep schedule to create the best opportunity for you to get the highest quality of sleep possible. It will reduce the amount of time in bed to only those hours when you are actually sleeping.
Your therapist will specifically help you to combat insomnia by creating an environment that encourages sleep. This might include ensuring your bedroom is dark and cool and making sure that activities that are not conducive to sleep (homework, social media, reading, etc.) are not performed in bed.
Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you will also learn to identify thoughts about insomnia that elicit worry and anxiety and replace those with more adaptive thoughts. For example, instead of thinking, “I need 8 hours of sleep or I will not be able to function tomorrow,” you may learn, “I have performed well enough at work after a poor night’s sleep before; I can probably do so again.” You may also practice facing fears related to not sleeping.
By helping you change your relationship with anxious thoughts and your sleep environment, you will learn to reduce your anxiety regarding sleep and improve your sleep in the process.
Perhaps Insomnia Treatment Sounds Beneficial, But You Still Have Some Concerns…
I already take sleeping pills. How is this different?
CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) has proven to be highly effective for various aspects of insomnia (falling asleep faster, sleeping longer, and obtaining a better quality of sleep).*** The benefits of CBT-I persist after treatment has ended, while discontinuing sleeping pills is often associated with a rebound effect. Insomnia therapy also does not cause any safety risks or risk of dependence, while sleeping pills can.
I have had sleep issues for so long. What if it doesn’t work?
The fear that treatment will not work is completely normal. It makes sense that, if you have struggled with overcoming insomnia for a while, you are concerned that therapy will not work either.
Your insomnia therapist will assist you with looking at what you have already tried and can provide additional suggestions in terms of your sleep routine/hygiene. They will help you to see the connection between your thoughts and your sleep and teach you how to reframe unhelpful thoughts. CBT-I is evidence-based and effective and we are confident that, together, we can make the necessary changes to improve your sleep.
Everyone struggles with sleep. Won’t this get better on its own?
You are correct that everyone struggles with sleep occasionally. However, individuals with insomnia disorder struggle with sleep more frequently and, oftentimes, need assistance changing their routines.
Insomnia therapy does not need to take months or years. Transforming your routine and your thought patterns as well as managing the anxiety associated with not sleeping can change your relationship with sleep in a relatively short period of time.
You Can Improve Your Sleep
If your life is being impacted by insomnia or concerns about a lack of sleep, treatment with The OCD & Anxiety Center can offer you the right tools to make impactful changes. To address further concerns or schedule an appointment, please call us at (630) 522-3124 or email us at email@example.com.
If you would like additional information, please consider reading our newsletter or blog as well.