Insomnia is a disorder that affects about 10% of the general population and between 50-80% of those with mental health conditions. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, mood changes, irritability, and decreased quality of life.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep initially, waking up during the middle of the night, and/or waking up earlier than desired. If you are taking longer than 30-minutes to fall asleep or are awake more than 30-minutes after falling asleep more than 3 nights a week for more than 3 months, you should be evaluated for insomnia.
Causes of Insomnia
- Life stressors including job, relationships, and financial stresses and more
- Unhealthy lifestyle and sleep habits
- Anxiety disorders, depression and/or other mental health problems
- Chronic pain due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other conditions.
- Gastrointestinal disorders, such as heartburn
- Hormone fluctuations due to menstruation, menopause, thyroid disease or other issues
- Medications and other substances
- Neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
- Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome
Apart from disrupted sleep, insomnia can lead to other issues, such as:
- Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Low motivation or energy
- Poor concentration and focus
- A lack of coordination, leading to errors or accidents
- Worry or anxiety about sleeping
- Using medication or alcohol to fall asleep
- Tension headaches
- Difficulty socializing, working, or studying
How Insomnia Affects Mental Health Conditions
- Sleep problems increase the risk for developing mental health problems and treating sleep disorders can help alleviate mental health problems.
- Insomniacs were found to be 4 times more likely to develop major depression than normal sleepers during a second interview 3 years later.
- With bipolar disorder, insomnia often precedes a shift toward mania, and sleep deprivation is a known trigger of mania.
- Treating sleep disorders has repeatedly been shown to reduce symptoms of most anxiety disorders.
- Sleep deprivation increases hyperactivity, inattention, and emotional lability in people with ADHD.
What is Behavioral Sleep Medicine?
Behavioral sleep medicine is a specialty area of mental health that treats insomnia and other sleep disorders using effective behavioral treatments. Most sleep disorders can be successfully treated in 6-10 weeks without the use of medications. If you are already using sleep medications and would like to stop, behavioral sleep providers can help you learn to sleep efficiently while assisting your prescriber in tapering or stopping sleep medications.
What Behavioral Sleep Medicine Treats
- CPAP machine usage for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Circadian Rhythm Disorders (Delayed/Advanced Phase, Shift Work, Jet Lag, Irregular Sleep/Wake)
- Insufficient Sleep Syndrome
- Fatigue management due to narcolepsy
- Parasomnias (Sleep Walking, Bedwetting, Sleep Terrors)
- Behavioral Insomnia in Children