Sleep Disorders

In today’s fast-paced world, some people think of sleep as a luxury that they can simply choose to indulge in or not. But the truth is that quality sleep is as necessary as breathing. 

Without sleep, our bodies and minds are unable to reset and recharge. Over time, this results in a higher risk of anxiety, depression, diabetes, and even cancer.

If your inability to achieve quality sleep seems insurmountable, NPS will help you work through the issue. Our counselors are who you want to see for sleep disorders. Trust us to identify and treat the causes of insomnia so that you can get your mental and physical wellness back on track. 

Knowing When There’s a Problem

Everyone struggles with sleep from time to time. A failed exam, an unexpected bill, or a fight with a loved one can cause temporary disruptions to our nightly routines. But how do you spot the difference between a few sleepless nights and genuine insomnia symptoms?

Start by asking yourself how often you fall asleep in unexpected moments. Do you sometimes nod off in the following situations?

  • Sitting on the couch and reading a book
  • Watching TV
  • Riding in a car that has stopped momentarily in traffic
  • Mid-conversation with another person
  • Sitting inactive in a public place, like in a meeting or on a park bench

If several of these scenarios apply to you, it’s possible that you are not getting restorative sleep. 

What you need to know is that not all sleep is created equal. Of the four stages of sleep (wakefulness, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM) only the last two are considered restorative. 

In other words, you could be clocking in the recommended hours of sleep each night and still not getting enough. If you aren’t reaching deep sleep or REM, you simply won’t wake up feeling rested and recharged—no matter how late you sleep in. 

It’s possible that your inability to achieve restorative sleep comes down to a physical issue (like sleep apnea) or even an interfering medication. But if those possibilities have been ruled out, it’s time to turn to a professional counselor.

At NPS, we use the “gold standard” modality to improve sleep. This is a six-week program of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I.) Working with our therapists to improve sleep hygiene during this program could be your first step to a good night’s sleep.

Understanding Why Restorative Sleep Matters

If you have struggled with sleep for some time, you may have learned how to “deal with” some of the less favorable consequences. In fact, many of our clients believe that chronic fatigue is simply a part of being an adult. This is not true!

There’s a reason your doctor urges you to get enough sleep. Anxiety and sleep disorders have the power to negatively impact your life in a number of ways.

In the short term, you may experience:

  • A decreased ability to stay alert
  • Greater likelihood of bodily harm due to clumsiness or drowsy driving
  • Excessive sleepiness during the daytime
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Moodiness
  • Increased conflict and/or relationship stress

Of course, none of these consequences are acceptable, but they are truly just the tip of the iceberg. If you continue to let restorative sleep elude you, more serious health problems may begin to appear. Long-term sleep deprivation has a proven association with the following issues:

  • Lower sex drive
  • Reduced immune system function
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Chronic sleep deprivation is even known to affect a person’s appearance. Over time, you may begin to notice premature wrinkling and dark circles under your eyes. That’s because it’s believed that lack of sleep leads to an increase in the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol breaks down collagen (the protein that keeps skin smooth,) so it’s possible that those sleepless nights may translate to more wrinkles!

Identifying How Much Sleep You Actually Need

You’ve probably heard that eight hours of sleep each night is the magic number. The truth is a bit more complicated than that.

Doctors actually make sleep recommendations based on a patient’s age. In other words, there’s not a blanket one-size-fits-all number like you may have been led to believe.

According to the latest research, there are nine categories of recommended sleep:

  1. Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours of sleep each day
  2. Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours of sleep each day
  3. Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours of sleep each day
  4. Preschool Children (3-5 years): 10-13 hours of sleep each day
  5. School-aged Children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours of sleep each day
  6. Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours of sleep each day
  7. Young Adults (18-25 years): 7-9 hours of sleep each day
  8. Adults (26-64 years): 7-9 hours of sleep each day
  9. Adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours of sleep each day

Of course, there are a number of other factors that can impact the amount of sleep a doctor recommends for you. While most adults need seven hours of sleep each day, details regarding your environment, behavior, and genetics may affect this number.

Weighing Your Options: Medication Vs. Natural Treatments for Insomnia

At NPS, our first attempt at correcting a sleep disorder is always through natural forms of treatment. While we are not against the use of medications for sleep, we are aware of the possible negative side effects.

Our counselors have a number of tools and resources that can help you achieve the sleep you need and want—without medication. From practicing mindfulness to engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy, there are a number of options available to you. We can even try a supplement or sleep hygiene regimen.

To get started, you will need to schedule an assessment with Dr. Neal to identify the underlying causes of your sleep issues. Once we know whether your sleep disorder is caused by depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, stress, or other issues, we will be better able to recommend a treatment plan. 

Trust Dr. Neal to identify and diagnose the problem. From there, you can meet with our sleep specialist to create a customized plan that will get you sleeping and out the door!

Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands: Steps for a Good Night's Sleep

Not sure whether your sleep issues require professional intervention? Start your insomnia therapy at home. By taking just a few proactive steps each day, you may be able to get your sleep back on track. Even a few small habits have the potential to make a giant impact. 

  1. Implement a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Setting an alarm for bedtime can help.
  2. Try to get at least 30-minutes of exercise most days. Even a daily walk can make all the difference. Just be sure not to work out too close to bedtime!
  3. Remember that caffeine and nicotine take around eight hours to wear off. Try to avoid chocolate, teas, colas, and coffee altogether.
  4. Avoid alcohol whenever possible. Alcohol has the ability to disrupt REM sleep, impair breathing, and cause nighttime wakefulness. 
  5. Refrain from eating large meals or drinking lots of liquids at night. Of course, a light snack or a glass of water is okay. We simply recommend that you avoid any substance that might cause indigestion or frequent urination.
  6. Talk to your doctor about avoiding medications that interfere with sleep.
  7. Avoid taking naps after 3 PM.
  8. Give yourself time to relax before bedtime. Try unwinding by reading a book or listening to music.
  9. Take a hot bath before going to bed. 
  10. Make your bedroom a dark, cool, and gadget-free environment. You might even benefit from turning your alarm clock’s face away.
  11. Try to obtain at least 30-minutes of exposure to sunlight each day. 
  12. Give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep at night. If it is taking you longer to fall asleep, do something relaxing like reading a book or listening to music.

If these at-home steps don’t make a difference in your ability to get quality sleep, you know it’s time to call NPS about insomnia behavioral therapy.

Schedule Your Free Meet & Greet to Learn More

Even if you are fed up with feeling tired and have begun to search for insomnia therapy near me, asking for professional help can still be hard. That’s why we work to make the process as simple and pain-free as possible. 

When you’re ready, ask about our free, 15-minute meet and greets for new patients. This will give you the opportunity to get familiar with your counselor before you begin working with them. Simply call our office at (815) 477-4727 to learn more.

Are you ready to take the next step?

Contact us and schedule your first appointment today. 

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