How Can I Fix My Sleeping Disorder?

A sleep disorder is a condition that makes it hard for you to fall asleep. Health issues such as chronic pain from a medical condition, headaches, mental health issues, and a bed partner who snores could explain why you’re having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. However, you may have a sleep disorder if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, have trouble falling asleep, or experience extreme fatigue during the day.

Nearly 70 million people in the United States suffer from sleep disorders, and while over 80 different types of sleep disorders exist, the most common ones are narcolepsy, sleep apnea, chronic insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. If you have trouble sleeping, here’s what you can do about it.

Sleep Treatments

If you’re experiencing short-term insomnia caused by jet lag or a new work schedule, sleeping pills may help. Often accessible over the counter, these medications are designed to regulate your sleep-wake cycle and minimize sleep disturbances such as trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Avoid using these pills regularly to avoid developing a dependency.

If your sleep patterns are getting harder to predict, consider using natural supplements instead. Melatonin is a hormone that also plays an important part in your natural sleep-wake cycle. Available as a dietary supplement, melatonin might help manage the symptoms of insomnia such as anxiety, daytime sleepiness, and a disordered sleep phase.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of therapy used to manage major sleep disorders. CBT for sleep can be conducted in a group setting, where individuals dealing with similar sleeping problems can meet in a safe space, or on a one-on-one basis between the therapist and patient. CBT for insomnia is a type of therapeutic approach that’s tailored to individuals who have a hard time getting the amount of sleep they need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.

As a therapeutic style, CBT helps the individual notice maladaptive behavior patterns and enduring negative thoughts, and how these contribute to their quality of sleep. The behavioral interventions applied in CBT teach the individual how to develop better sleep habits and avoid behaviors that are likely to keep them awake for longer. If you’re seeking CBT for sleep deprivation, your therapist may suggest keeping a sleep diary to help you identify patterns in your sleeping problems. You’ll then discuss these patterns during your therapy sessions and work to find ways to improve your bedtime habits.

Some sleep hygiene recommendations you’re likely to get include setting up a regular sleep schedule, limiting your daytime naps, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and limiting your screen time before bed. They may also suggest some relaxation techniques to help you wind down, such as taking a bath or having a cup of herbal tea.

If you need help finding therapists in NYC, consider reaching out to family members or trusted friends for referrals. If you’re employed, your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be a great place to find referrals. Alternatively, if your health insurance has mental health benefits, your insurer’s website can be a great place to find an in-network therapist.

Alternative Treatments

Aromatherapy is another great way to help regulate circadian rhythm disorders. Lavender oil is known for its therapeutic benefits, especially when it comes to managing depressive symptoms. If your sleeping problem is caused by ongoing mental health struggles, try adding a dab of lavender oil into your warm bath for a better night’s sleep.

Taking up a meditation practice can also help manage the symptoms of sleep disorders related to stress or an overactive mind. If you’re new to meditation, a guided meditation led by a licensed therapist can be helpful. Some apps or podcasts to help with this include Calm and Headspace.