Insomnia / sleep disorders are one of the most common complaints in in the world. More than 60 million adults suffer from insomnia just in the U.S. 30% to 50% of the population is affected by insomnia. Especially in Dubai – a high productive work environment – insomnia is a very common complaint.
Insomnia may be an independent disorder or secondary to a medical condition
Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, waking up often during the night, waking up too early in the morning and feeling tired upon waking.
There are very effective ways of treatment for sleep disorders these days. The problem is rather that patients are hesitant to search professional help. Thus a vicious circle could start where the sufferer is already afraid of going to bed. Obviously then it will be very difficult to fall asleep. If you are suffering from sleep disorders, you know what we are talking about.
Specialists are using a combination of these scientifically proven treatment options for insomnia: Sleep hygiene, stimulus control, relaxation techniques, sleep restriction therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and medications.
Today we would like to deliver one of these techniques to your doorstep or rather in your bedroom. Stimulus control therapy. It’s very effective and successfully used since more than 30 years. It sounds easy but it’s not. The pivotal point is your willpower to maintain these rules. It is actual work. If you don’t manage it alone, a psychologist might help you.
Rules of stimulus control therapy (Bootzin, 1980):
- Only go to bed when sleepy. Bear in mind being sleepy is not the same thing as being tired. It is important to be aware of this difference.
- Use the bed only for sleep and sexual activity. Do not engage in sleep-incompatible activity in bed such as eating snacks, watching TV or working.
- If after about 10 minutes you are unable to fall asleep or awaken, leave the bed and go to another room. Then return to bed and repeat as often as necessary until you do fall asleep. It is important to not watch the clock while doing this. It is your subjective estimate of time that is important.
- Keep a regular morning rise time no matter how much sleep you got the night before. This will help regularize the circadian (24 hour) schedule and if you don’t sleep well one night, the drive to sleep will be higher the following night.
- Avoid napping. This prevents reducing sleep drive earlier in the day that can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Why is it working? Psychologists call it conditioning. Conditioning is a type of learning that had a major influence on the school of thought in psychology known as behaviourism. Wrong conditioning is a major problem that occurs in chronic insomnia. If you repeatedly toss and turn in your bed for hours on end, your body will eventually learn to associate your bed with stress and being awake. As a result, your bedroom will actually cause you to stay awake. The points above are trying to address this problem and to re-teach your body to associate your bed with healthy sleep.
Keep in mind that it takes time and effort to make it work. Like any other form of learning. However, if this is not sufficient a combination therapy might be the right thing for you. This could include sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques, sleep restriction therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and medication.