You've been there - wide awake, hours after you should've drifted to sleep, ruminating about your clients' problems or even your own problems. Perhaps there's very little on your mind, but sleep illudes you no matter how hard you try. Insomnia is insidious and incredibly common; our friend Dr. Steven Marcus has written the below blog detailing the issue of insomnia and its role in mental health. Give it a read and let us know what you think!
The Insomnia Problem
Steven Marcus, Ph.D.
Insomnia is the # 1 sleep problem in the United States. It is the 3rd most common reason patients seek help from their primary medical care provider.
How much guidance can a Primary Care MD give a patient in a 10 to 15-minute visit? It is quite common for the MD to suggest medication for the insomnia problem. Short-term use of a medication to treat insomnia may help for a few days but it does not address the underlying causes of insomnia. What could be causing insomnia? It could be an occupational stressor, a relationship problem, depression, general anxiety, a frightening medical diagnosis, a lawsuit, conflict with a friend, losing a job, being in lockdown from COVID-19, fears of the future, educational challenges, financial worries during an economic crisis, a recent or past trauma or the individual may have insomnia as a primary problem.
As a mental health professional, you may be the best person in your patient's life to identify and help them with their sleep problem. You have the time during a 50-minute session to address the causes of insomnia and develop a treatment plan to address the sleep problem. You can treat the symptoms of insomnia alongside a more robust treatment plan. Or you may decide to address the causes of the sleep problem and use various protocols to curtail insomnia directly.
Addressing and managing your patient’s insomnia problem can create lasting benefits and prevent a host of negative health consequences from lack of sleep.
You may already know that drowsy driving has overtaken alcohol abuse as the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. Lack of sleep may also be connected to weight gain because inadequate sleep decreases the hormone Leptin (satiety) and increase Gherlin (hunger pangs) that drive overeating. When you are short on sleep you may have noticed you begin searching for foods containing sugar. Chocolate anyone? Lack of sleep may also have links to cardiovascular disease and dementia. Increases in anxiety are highly correlated with insomnia. 90% of mood disorders feature insomnia. Reduced sleep is correlated with decreased sex drive.
Helping your patients regain restorative sleep can have generous health benefits. You have probably noticed when you get good a night's sleep you have greater motivation and energy, better mood and overall mental and physical health. It is easier to get into the “flow” state during activity. Being in that easy flow elevates the sense of synchronicity along with increased clarity and vitality. You are performing at a higher level.
Collaborating with your patient in making sleep health a primary focus of the psychotherapy treatment plan can pay big dividends. Getting a good night's sleep also benefits the psychotherapist. Get started tonight!
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Dr. Marcus holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. He is a Licensed Psychologist in the State of California. Dr. Marcus has designed programs for Panic, Phobia, PTSD, Trauma, Depression, Occupational problems, Stress Reduction, Self Esteem, Couples, Alcohol and Drug problems and Headache Relief. He has extensive experience with CBT and EMDR. Dr. Marcus is an EMDR Approved Consultant and he has published research on PTSD and Migraine Headaches.