When you can’t sleep like you’d like to, it can become quite a nuisance and cause extreme fatigue and crankiness. Lack of sleep and lack of food can take a normally happy person and turn them into a bit of a monster. If you struggle with a sleep disorder, you’re probably interested in getting a treatment that works consistently or eliminates the disorder completely.
There are generally two categories of sleep treatments: non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments.
Non-Pharmacological Treatments: Non-pharmacological treatments treat sleep disorders without the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. These methods include surgery, behavioral techniques, and natural methods. Many times a sleep disorder occurs because there is something obstructing the upper airway, so surgery may remove that obstruction to help the patient to sleep better. Surgery could include a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, or uvulopharyngoplasty (UPPP).
Behavioral therapy: You might not think your behavior is associated with your sleep patterns, but there is a connection. If you correlate lying down in bed to thinking about all of your stress in life, your behavior will influence whether you fall asleep or not. It is important to have a bedtime routine that is relaxing to you, making you sleepy instead of stressed out and anxious.
Here are some various behavioral therapies for sleep disorders:
Stimulus Control Therapy: This treatment prompts people to create a relaxing and peaceful sleep environment that actually assists them in falling asleep.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps patients change their thoughts and behaviors associated with their sleep disorder. This therapy has been known to help those suffering from bedwetting, insomnia, and other sleep problems.
Sleep Hygiene: Sleep hygiene refers to everything that precedes you trying to go to sleep every night. Do you have a routine? Do you allow ample relaxation or winding down time? Do you have a specific set of bedtime guidelines? Having such will help you sleep better.
Scheduled naps: For those who struggle with narcolepsy and tend to be very sleepy throughout the day, scheduling short naps throughout the day may help.
Medical Equipment Options:
- Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for sleep apnea has proven to be quite helpful.
- Bilevel or BiPAP, which allows only a certain pressure for inhaling and exhaling to occur
- Special pillows
- Oral retainers
- Special beds designed for comfort.
- Yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and guided imagery are all behavioral techniques that have been proven helpful to some who suffer from sleep disorders.
- Nasal strips for those who snore are helpful and using a certain position to sleep in helps as well.
Pharmacological Treatments: Prescription drugs are helpful for certain sleep disorders, with the most common pharmacological treatment being sleeping pills. For insomnia, sedatives are prescribed. For those with narcolepsy or sleep apnea, stimulants are prescribed. Health experts assert that sleeping pills ought to only be taken for a short period of time, as they like to view them as more of a temporary solution. Doctors want patients to get to a point where they use them only as necessary and sparingly, so that dependence does not occur.
“When you’re trying to understand the subtext of what someone is saying, your brain needs to use a bunch of programs at the same time. If you’re sleep deprived, that’s hard to do.”
-Dr. Gandis Mazeika, head of Sleep Medicine Northwest in Seattle.
Do you think you have a sleep disorder? If so, which one?
What treatments mentioned here can you try to resolve the issue?
It is my continued desire to share knowledge about all things that help us thrive, flourish, create, maintain and share happiness. I can’t emphasize enough what a good night of restorative sleep does for our bodies, minds and emotions. In my experience as health and wellness editor at Sleep and Wellness Magazine I have been called upon to weave a user-friendly true story about the nature of our inner garden and the impact of “sleep-fulness” and sleeplessness upon our overall health and wellbeing. Modern life has made many aspects of the daily routine easier and at the same time, added volumes of stress that make the simple pleasures, such as a great sleep, somewhat illusive. When we learn to slow down and “be” with life, in life and immersed with presence and attention wonderful things can happen. Enjoy this series on the Magic of Sleep!