The most useful and efficient way of starting one’s sleep program is by understanding their current sleep–wake patterns. The standard measurement tool for insomnia is the “sleep diary”. Sleep diaries are not really diaries, but simple logs, based on one’s recollection of their last night’s sleep. Because they are the expert on their insomnia, they are the best person to report on each night’s sleep in order to measure their sleep problem. In fact, people with insomnia who go to sleep labs usually have trouble sleeping in the lab, which simply confirms their insomnia. Although the sleep information obtained from consumer wearable devices is appealing, at the time of writing this, these trackers are not yet ready for use in Sleep Therapy. This chapter provides a note about personal electronic sleep trackers and discusses logging your sleep with a sleep diary.
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After Week 4 of Sleep Therapy, it is recommended that one should check to see if they are now free from insomnia. One can do this by looking at the same things in their current sleep diary, before they started Sleep Therapy. This chapter provides suggestions to find out the experiences of initial insomnia, multiple awakenings, middle insomnia, and terminal insomnia. If a person takes longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, he/she is experiencing “initial insomnia”. If a person has more than 3 awakenings per night, he/she can describe it as having “multiple awakenings”. If a person awakes each night, (3 nights or more) for greater than 30 minutes, he/she is experiencing “middle insomnia”. If a person wakes up for more than 30 minutes too early on at least 3 mornings, then he/she has “terminal” or “end-of-night” insomnia.
Sleep Therapy is the term used for the specific program, which combines the most powerful and effective components of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. The first part of the program, called FIRST THINGS FIRST, involves recording one’s sleep using sleep diaries to assess the nature of their insomnia. This chapter focuses on how to uncover, or rediscover, the biological processes that allow one to sleep. It shows how to tailor one’s bedtime and rise time in order to get solid sleep, and how to associate one’s bed with great sleep. The procedures will be summarized in Six Steps to Solid Sleep, the main techniques of Sleep Therapy. With some practice of these relaxation and “cognitive therapy” techniques, one knows how to move their mind into a state that is more conducive to having sleep arrive, to having the velvet hammer descend.
This chapter provides methods to overcome the negative self-talk, by replacing it with balanced thinking that includes some realistic optimism. We humans have problem-solving, thinking brains that are always trying to make sense of our world. Sometimes sleep-related thoughts persist and this is when we need to face them head-on, evaluate them and respond to them in a new way so they are not so alerting and troubling. The chapter introduces us to the “cognitive therapy” component of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (
CBT-I). Feelings are basic and instinctive and easier to identify than thoughts. Therefore, the chapter presents an exercise that starts with asking one about their feelings, and then asks them to identify their associated automatic sleep-related thoughts. It provides an example, based on a real person with insomnia.
Hygiene means “principles of maintaining health; the practice of these”. In the strict sense “sleep hygiene rules” are tips for maintaining good sleep health. They include things that our grandmother may have told us, such as don’t eat a big meal before we go to bed. The research concurs: Sleep hygiene alone is not effective for reversing chronic insomnia. This chapter offers the recommendations or the top tips for better sleep. They can be helpful for people who usually sleep well but who have occasional or situational sleep problems in order to prevent further problems. By following them, one can certainly eliminate some of the factors that can interfere with sleep.
There are things over which one have direct control. So, if they are contributing to poor sleep, they can be addressed right away. One will now be perusing their sleep diary for three things: naps, alcohol, and sleep medication. Not that any of these things is bad, one just wants to make sure that they are not interfering with their nighttime sleep. If they are interfering, it is much easier to deal with them now, before one goes further. If one did nap, were the naps inadvertent or intentional? If they were inadvertent, this can be a sign of “excessive daytime sleepiness”. If the naps were intentional, then look at the timing of each nap. If one is taking sleep medication, it is dangerous to also drink alcohol. So, if one takes sleep medication, be sure to read and follow the instructions on the medication label.
Women are more likely than men to have insomnia. A family history of insomnia increases the likelihood of developing insomnia, especially if one’s mother had sleep difficulty. Some girls and women experience worse sleep in the 3–4 days before their menstrual period than at other times in their cycle. This is especially likely if they have premenstrual symptoms like depressed mood, irritability, appetite changes, and feeling tense. Pregnancy increases the risk of developing some other sleep disorders. Childbirth is a time when your sleep is bound to be totally disrupted. Women who develop persistent insomnia sometimes identify childbirth as the starting point of their poor sleep. Effective treatments are available for most sleep disorders. For insomnia, women make up the majority of volunteer participants in treatment studies. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia works to reverse insomnia during most stages of life including young adulthood, midlife, and old age.
The completed sleep diaries will provide very interesting and useful information. This chapter helps the reader to go through their baseline sleep diary and see what it tells us. One will be looking at certain rows of their sleep diary now. The chapter guides us through the sleep diary, pointing out what to look for. It follows the same sequence that the author uses when he examines people’s sleep diaries in the clinic, which is not necessarily the same order in which we filled out the sleep diary. The first mission is to identify what type of insomnia we have. One has just looked at their baseline sleep diary for initial insomnia, multiple awakenings, middle insomnia, and terminal insomnia. It is quite common for people to have more than one type of insomnia problem. Our impression of how we are sleeping is, of course, one of the most important measurements.
One’s sleep diary provides good information about their sleep timing, quality, and quantity, and is the best way to measure sleep if a person has insomnia. For more in-depth examination of sleep by scientists, or sleep medicine clinicians, special equipment is used to track sleep stages and cycles through the night. To determine sleep stages, three main measurements are used: brain waves, eye movements, and muscle tone. These are measured using electrodes that are attached to the scalp, the face near the eyes, and under the chin, respectively. Polysomnography is measurement of sleep overnight in the sleep lab, with electrodes that are attached to the scalp, face, and chin, to determine sleep stages. Actigraphy is another way that sleep can be measured, but only roughly.
Sadness and anxiety are normal human emotions and stress is a normal occurrence in our lives. When we’re feeling somewhat down, anxious or stressed, we can benefit from exercise, relaxation, recreation, eating nutritious foods, allowing time for sleep, and talking to a friend. Clinical depression and anxiety are very common conditions. This chapter looks at what they are, what happens to sleep, and what helps recovery of mood and sleep. It outlines what is known about treating insomnia in three forms of clinical depression: major depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. Research on how people respond to natural disasters has told us that within the first months of disaster, many people develop signs of anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress. With respect to sleep, people with posttraumatic stress disorder tend to get somewhat less deep sleep, longer periods of being awake during the night, and an overall shorter sleep duration.