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Understanding and Managing Sleep Disorders

At Evolving Minds Counselling, we use evidence-based therapies to help children, adolescents, and adults manage sleep disorders.

A lack of sleep has been associated with heightened blood pressure and an increased risk of hypertension, straining the heart over time, leading to serious complications like heart attacks and strokes.

 

The good news is sleep disorders are manageable with the appropriate treatment.  

The most common sleep disorders are:

Insomnia

Insomnia can disrupt your ability to initiate or maintain sleep, impacting various aspects of life including work performance, decision-making, and relationships.

 

It's important to note insomnia can affect anyone and may be triggered by factors such as stress, chronic pain, pregnancy, depression, and environmental elements like noise, light, extreme temperatures, or irregular sleep patterns due to shift work.

Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) is an effective treatment for addressing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to sleep, and poor sleeping habits. 

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea affects breathing during sleep, often without you realising it. In severe cases, breathing interruptions can occur numerous times throughout the night.

 

Sleep apnoea has been linked to various health issues including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression. It has also been found to increase risk for accidents, such as falling asleep while driving.

Although medical intervention is typically necessary for sleep apnoea, lifestyle adjustments such as weight management, reducing smoking and alcohol consumption can also help manage symptoms..

Studies have shown CBT can also be beneficial in managing and alleviating symptoms of sleep apnoea.

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom Disease

Restless legs syndrome, is an irresistible urge to move the legs that impacts someone getting to sleep.  It causes sensations like itching or burning in the legs while lying down.

This disorder affects both sleep quality and quantity, leading to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and associations with depression and anxiety. RLS tends to run in families with with women being more susceptible than men. Iron deficiency and low dopamine levels are known precursors, and other sleep disorders like sleep apnoea and sleep deprivation can trigger episodes.

In pregnancy, RLS often occurs in the last trimester but typically resolves after childbirth. Children diagnosed with ADHD may also experience RLS.

 

Managing RLS involves lifestyle modifications and adopting healthy coping strategies.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

These disorders affect the timing of sleep, resulting in difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up during sleep, or being unable to fall back asleep. Common conditions under this category include delayed sleep phase disorder, jet lag, and shift work disorder.

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders stem from disruptions in internal and external factors such as biological clocks, work schedules, illness, or social obligations. Symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, sleep loss, depression, stress in relationships, and impaired performance at work or school.

Effective treatments for circadian rhythm sleep disorders include progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and practicing good sleep hygiene.

If you believe you could benefit from seeing an Evolving Minds clinician, please don't hesitate to contact us at 02 8519 4197, or completed the form below.

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