Even if you don’t have insomnia, chances are you’ve had a night or two when you went to bed and lay there, staring at the ceiling, watching the clock, and feeling frustrated that you couldn't sleep.
The same problem turns into a physical and mental health problem when it occurs regularly or lasts for months. For this reason, you should never struggle with insomnia, hoping it will go away.
David Leszkowitz, DO, at White Lake Family Medicine in White Lake, Michigan, helps people of all ages overcome this aggravating problem. And the most effective treatment doesn’t involve powerful, addictive medications with unwanted side effects. You can eliminate insomnia with behavioral health techniques.
Insomnia occurs when you struggle to fall asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake up and can’t go back to sleep. Many people occasionally go through periods of insomnia; for others, getting a good night’s sleep becomes an ongoing struggle.
Difficulty sleeping causes problems during the day, such as:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Inability to concentrate or pay attention
- No motivation to accomplish tasks (whether at work or for fun)
- Poor performance at work or school
- Memory loss
Insomnia makes you more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and stress. If you already have a mental health condition, insomnia tends to worsen your symptoms.
Health risks of insomnia
Your body cycles through different stages of sleep, completing vital protective and reparative functions at each interval. Your brain eliminates toxic wastes and tucks recent events into your long-term memory. Sleep triggers the release of hormones that are vital for your health.
While you sleep, your body rebuilds energy and repairs muscles and cellular damage. During one stage, your heart rate and blood pressure go down, giving your heart its only chance to rest from the strain of daily life.
Insomnia disrupts all these processes, and that affects your physical health, increasing your risk of developing:
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Type II diabetes
- Heart attacks
- Heart arrhythmias
- Congestive heart failure
Losing sleep often leads to weight gain as it affects hormones controlling hunger and fat storage.
We begin with a comprehensive physical evaluation and diagnostic testing if needed. The goal is to identify any underlying health conditions associated with insomnia, such as certain medications, chronic pain, neurological disorders, or restless legs. If we find an underlying cause, we treat that problem.
Insomnia treatments come down to two options: medications and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Though severe insomnia may need a short-term course of medication, they’re not the first choice for most people because they have side effects, and many are habit-forming.
The good news is that we specialize in CBT, and it’s highly effective. During CBT, we use one or more of the following techniques:
We help you identify and control the negative thoughts that keep you awake.
We also identify stressors disrupting your sleep and create a stress management plan.
This technique refers to removing things that make you resist sleep and getting up if you can’t sleep within a specific time limit (rather than tossing and turning for hours).
Your environment has a significant impact on sleep. Turning off all lights and electronics is critical because the light disrupts your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. It also helps to keep the temperature in the room cool.
We teach techniques to calm your mind and body, helping you fall asleep.
Sleep hygiene changes
Sleep hygiene means evaluating and changing the daily habits that affect your ability to sleep. For example, drinking caffeine late in the day or too much alcohol in the evening causes insomnia. This approach also includes planning and following a relaxing routine, helping you wind down an hour before bedtime.
This technique, called paradoxical intention, involves not trying to fall asleep. This helps you forget the worry about whether or not you’ll be able to fall asleep, which then makes it easier to sleep.
If you have difficulty sleeping, don’t wait to seek help. Call White Lake Family Medicine or book an appointment online today.