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Beyond the medication available to treat sleep disorders, there is a range of lifestyle/behavioral treatments. They include:
- Relaxation training: methods such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), deep breathing techniques, imagery, and self-hypnosis. PMR involves helping the individual to tense and relax the body's major muscle groups. Daily practice of these relaxation techniques between therapy sessions is recommended.
- Cognitive therapy: cognitive therapy helps people with insomnia identify and correct inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that may contribute to insomnia. Cognitive therapy offers proper information about sleep norms, age-related sleep changes, reasonable sleep goals, and the influence of naps and exercise.
- Stimulus control: the belief that insomnia may be related to the bedrooms having become associated with other things besides sleep and intimate affairs with your partner. Therefore, the bedroom should be reserved for sleep, sex and dressing only.
- Sleep restriction therapy: SRT is based on the belief that excess time in bed makes sleep problems worse. SRT consists of limiting a persons time in bed to only that time where they are sleeping.
- Sleep hygiene: this refers to practices, habits and environmental factors that are important for getting sound sleep. The four general areas important to sleep hygiene are the circadian rhythm (24-hour cycle), aging, psychological stressors that cause mini-awakenings (in which the brain wakes up for just a few seconds) and stimulant use.
- Circadian rhythms influence when, how much, and how well people sleep. These rhythms may be altered by the timing of various factors, including naps, bedtime, exercise, and exposure to light.
- Stress can interfere with sleep. Some people find it helpful to make a list of all the stressors of the day, along with a plan to deal with them. In addition, periods of relaxation (meditating or taking a hot bath) can help a person relax and get to sleep. Stimulants can stay in the body as long as 14 hours and can increase the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. The effects of nicotine, when consumed in high doses, are similar to those of caffeine.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|