Are you sleep deprived?

Dr. Lisa Cottrell is a clinical psychologist at the Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Wauwatosa.

National Sleep Awareness Week , March 2-9, 2014., is a public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep.

Dr. Lisa Cottrell Ph.D., CBSM. Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine, explains that there is effective treatment for insomnia.

Sleep is a commodity that is often unappreciated. While adults need 7 ½ – 8 hours of sleep a night, the average sleep time in the U.S. is now 6.8 hours. When sleep-related problems develop, the value of sleep becomes more apparent. Sleep disruption and sleep deprivation often result in problems with focus and concentration during the day, irritable or depressed mood, fatigue, daytime sleepiness and many other consequences in the short-term as well as long-term. Sleep problems may include medical syndromes, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy. Sleep deficits may also involve insomnia.

Insomnia can be defined as difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early or chronically experiencing nonrestorative or poor quality sleep.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is the most common sleep problem among Americans. National Institutes of Health data indicate that, within any given year, 30 – 40% of adults have some symptoms of insomnia and 10 – 15% of adults report that they have chronic insomnia.

Insomnia may be caused by stress and anxiety; it may also be caused by a variety of medications, illnesses and medical conditions. When there is an underlying condition, the insomnia can exacerbate the condition and a cycle of worsening health and increasing sleep problems can develop. Insomnia can be treated successfully. While there are medications available to treat difficulty falling and staying asleep, there is also an evidence-based approach to treat insomnia that does not require the use of medication. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of insomnia (CBTI) has been shown in research to be as effective as medication to treat insomnia in the short-term and more effective than medication in the long-term. In fact, CBTI is a first-line treatment of choice endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep medicine.

CBTI involves meeting with a psychologist trained in the method. It is a short-term (6-10 sessions) treatment approach that includes monitoring sleep patterns, changing sleep-related behaviors, managing the sleep environment and learning strategies to cope effectively with thoughts or worries that interfere with sleep. People who engage in CBTI report high satisfaction with the method and significant improvements in sleep.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with sleep, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.