As discussed in the previous blog, a variety of sleep complaints surrounding sleep can occur, including: insomnia, parasomnias, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.
This current article will offer remedies that can help with these complaints.
Lets begin with insomnia…
As previously defined, insomnia involves difficulties getting to sleep and/or staying asleep.
If you visit your doctor, they might sometimes refer you to a therapist for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBTi).
What is CBTi?
- CBTi is a method for treating insomnia without using or needing a prescription for sleeping pills that aims to help change the thoughts and behaviours that prevent you from sleeping.
Lets watch a video that briefly explains what CBTi entails…
What happens during CBTi sessions?
- CBTi involves regular meetings (once a week or every two weeks) with your therapist or clinician who will give you a series of sleep assessments, will ask you to keep a sleep diary, and will work with you using various methods to help change the way you sleep (which will be discussed later).
- The course of the treatment can last between 5 to 20 sessions, with each session lasting 30–60 minutes. However, the frequency of sessions might vary dependent on the patient. You might need only 2 sessions, or as many as 9 or more. CBTi is designed to help you beat your own unique experience with insomnia, regardless of how long that might take.
Therapists might suggest various CBTi techniques dependent on the patient, including:
Stimulus Control Therapy
Helps remove factors that condition your mind to resist sleep.
- Set consistent bedtimes and waketimes
- Avoid naps
- Use bed only for sleep
Helps reduce the time you spend in bed lying awake, as this can become a habit that leads to poor sleep (e.g. partial sleep deprivation).
Encourages changing basic lifestyle habits that influences sleep.
- Reduce smoking and drinking
- Do not drink caffeine late in the day
- Get enough exercise
Sleep Environment Improvement
Offers suggestions to help you create a comfortable sleep environment.
- Keeping bedroom quiet, dark and cool
- Not having a TV in the bedroom
- Hiding the clock from view
Helps calm your mind and body.
- Muscle relaxation
How is CBTi different to sleeping pills?
- CBTi addresses the underlying causes of insomnia, rather than just relieving the symptoms.
- CBTi tries to tackle the core root of the problem. However, CBTi takes patience and effort.
Does CBTi work?
- The National Institute of Health meeting on insomnia concluded that CBTi is a safe and effective means of managing chronic insomnia and its effects.
- CBTi can also help people with physical problems (chronic pain) or mental health problems (anxiety or depression), with long-lasting effects.
Advantages to CBTi
- Helpful in instances where medication hasn’t worked.
- Can be completed in a short period of time (vs. other talking therapies).
- Can be provided in different formats due to the highly structured nature of CBTi, including in groups, self-help books and apps.
- Teaches useful and practical strategies that can be used in everyday life, even after the treatment has finished.
As discussed in our ‘Sleep Complaints’ article, other sleep complaints might also require other remedies…
- CBTi would help improve parasomnias, as the only remedy for parasomnias is for more high quality sleep!
If you sleepwalk or have a parasomnia that causes you to get out of bed, there are also steps you can take to make your home safer:
- Add locks or alarms on your windows and doors
- Sleep on the ground floor
- Clear your bedroom of things that might cause you to trip or fall
Treatment may include making lifestyle changes and using breathing apparatus while you sleep.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Stop smoking if you smoke
- Limit alcohol consumption, particularly before going to bed
- Avoid sleeping tablets
- Use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This is a small pump that delivers a continuous supply of compressed air through a mask that either covers your nose or your nose and mouth. The compressed air prevents your throat closing. People who persevere usually soon get used to it and their symptoms improve significantly.
No cure yet exists for narcolepsy, however a combination of treatments can help control your narcolepsy symptoms:
- Schedule your sleep periods — Take a few brief, scheduled naps during the daytime (10–15 minutes each).
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
- Avoid over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness.
- Avoid activities that would be dangerous if you had a sudden sleep attack.
- Exercise on a regular basis.
Having gained a good understanding of sleep remedies, here are 3 tips to try out yourselves the next time you want to achieve a healthy nights sleep…
- …try to exercise!
- …create a time before bed where you only do activities that you genuinely find enjoyable.
- …sleep on comfortable mattress and pillows.