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An Expert's Glimpse into Insomnia

Last updated: Aug 31, 2020


Are you having trouble sleeping? If so, you are not alone. Most people will have trouble sleeping at some point in their lives.

“Sleep is governed by a biological drive that builds through the day,” says Summit Medical Group pulmonologist and sleep expert, Dr. Vicky Seelall. “However, many variables can disrupt this drive and cause sleep deprivations.”

One of the most common sleep issues that patients seek out Dr. Seelall’s care for is insomnia. Below, Dr. Seelall breaks down some of the more common attributes of the unwelcome disorder and provides tips to help those who are suffering, get through it.

Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or where you wake up too early. It can be short term, lasting a few days to a few weeks due to periods of stress, or it can be chronic, lasting several nights a week for months at a time. Chronic insomnia has many daytime consequences and can severely interfere with normal activities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of the population reports sleep deprivation. “Being unable to sleep is a horrible feeling, and it negatively affects so many aspects of your life,” says Dr. Seelall. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are endless. Not only can lack of sleep leave you feeling groggy and out of sorts, it can cause inflammation which can increase pain, affect mood, inhibit memory, decrease concentration, cause high blood pressure, and even weaken your immune system.

There are some predisposing factors that can make an individual more susceptible to insomnia such as age, or chronic illness. Anxiety and stress are also significant drivers.  

While insomnia can be mentally draining as well as bad for your health and quality of life, there are steps you can take to beat it.

Insomnia Tips for Adults:

  • Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • Limit time in bed to maximize sleep efficiency; minimizing the amount of time lying awake in bed can lessen anxiety
  • Do not leave clocks in direct line of vision
  • Keep a worry journal to unload worries before bedtime
  • Avoid stimulants after lunch such as coffee, cola, tea, energy products and chocolate
  • Exercise daily
  • Power all electronics down at least one hour prior to bedtime and avoid screen time while in bed
  • Allow sleep drive to build by avoiding naps
  • Make the bedroom sleep friendly; dark, cool and quiet
  • Create a sleep ritual to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep
  • Try relaxation therapy by either relaxing one muscle group at a time or doing relaxed deep breathing while redirecting thoughts towards calming imaging

 

Still Having Trouble?

We have many resources available at Summit Medical Group. Talk to your doctor about arranging an adult sleep consultation with one our board-certified sleep specialists. You may be eligible for a sleep study or a candidate for behavioral therapy. You can also visit our Sleep Disorders Center page to learn more about our services, locations, and providers.

Insomnia in Children

Insomnia is also common in the pediatric population and will affect parents as well. Insomnia in children may manifest as refusal to go to bed and/or prolonged awakenings in the middle of the night that require parental intervention.

Insomnia Tips for Children

  • Put child to bed while drowsy but still awake; start young at around 3-6 months
  • Match sleep window to sleep needs; if child only sleeps for 10 hours, do not keep them in bed for 14 hours
  • Keep a consistent bedtime
  • Power all electronics down at least one hour prior to bedtime and avoid screen time while in bed
  • Develop a consistent pre-bedtime routine without stimulating activities
  • Use positive reinforcement such as a sticker chart
  • Practice bedtime fading. For example, if child is resistant to going to bed at a certain time, change bedtime to actual sleep time. Then gradually advance sleep time
  • Use graduated extinction which slowly extends the periods of time you go without checking on child

Summit Medical Group pediatricians can assess your child and offer guidance or recommend additional resources. Find more information on our pediatric services, providers, and locations here.

 

Dr. Seelall is an acknowledged expert in the field of sleep medicine and as such has been interviewed frequently by national and local news networks on sleep disorders, such as CBS, NBC and Yahoo. In addition, she has written book chapters and has been invited to speak at national and local meetings regarding sleep disorders.

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