It’s not always easy to find help for insomnia. Several people I interviewed for “The Savvy Insomniac” reported that their primary care doctors didn’t seem to take the complaint seriously or prescribed treatments that didn’t work.
I thought the situation must have changed since persistent insomnia is now known to be associated with health problems down the line. But a recent report on the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system shows that insomnia is still overlooked and undertreated by many primary care providers.
Here’s what you may find—and what you deserve—when you talk to your doctor about sleep.
Can chronic insomnia make you less attractive? speed up the aging of skin? cause irreversible damage to your face?
I heard these concerns as I interviewed insomniacs for my book. But recently I decided to check into them after receiving an email from a woman whose anxiety about her appearance was extreme:
When people write in with lots of questions about insomnia, I’ll often recommend seeing a sleep specialist or a sleep therapist who can provide cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
But finding sleep specialists and sleep therapists can be tricky. Here’s why you might want to consult one and how to locate the right provider.
If you have insomnia, you’ve probably heard it’s best to avoid naps. Maybe you heard it from your doctor in a conversation about the rules of “good sleep hygiene,” or maybe you read it in a magazine. Is the advice to refrain from napping really sound advice and, if so, do you have to swear off napping completely to get a better night’s rest?
There are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions, say researchers who recently reviewed the evidence behind the recommendation to avoid napping and other sleep-related do’s and don’ts. It depends on your age and situation.
Psychophysiologic insomnia: This was my diagnosis when I finally decided to see a doctor about my sleep. I didn’t like the sound of it. “Psycho” came before “physiologic,” and to me the implication was that my trouble sleeping was mostly in my head.
My insomnia felt physical, accompanied as it was by bodily warmth, muscle tension, and a jittery feeling inside. I was anxious about sleep, too, and my thoughts weren’t exactly upbeat. But surely putting the psycho before the physiologic was putting the cart before the horse?
Insomnia sufferers write to me often with complaints about sleep-related worry and anxiety.
“The more important the next day is to me, the harder it is for me to sleep,” Jessica says. “So I worry about not sleeping and then it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Finding a solution to this problem can be tricky. It may require experimentation before you home in on a strategy that works.
Do you hold yourself to high (sometimes impossibly high) standards? Do you tend to be self-critical and cringe at making mistakes? Is it even difficult sometimes to take pleasure in your own hard-won achievements?
These are signs of perfectionism, and perfectionists are more susceptible to insomnia than people who can shrug off their mistakes.
Last week Dan wrote to Ask The Savvy Insomniac with questions about cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Dan has bipolar disorder, and because of this diagnosis, his sleep doctor had reservations about him undergoing CBT-I.
So Dan tried a modified version for 2 weeks. His sleep did not improve. He was wondering if he would have to use sleeping pills and if he should continue with CBT-I on his own.