Sleep Related Issues

Insomnia and sleep related Issues

What are Sleep-Wake Disorders?

Disturbances in the sleep-wake cycle are among the most common of all mental health related symptoms. Although they can sometimes be caused by a biological event, sleep difficulties are often exacerbated by psychological factors and can play a role in the development of other mental health problems.
Some of the most common sleep-wake disorders include:

  • Insomnia Disorder – A common sleep disorder characterised by difficulties in getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up early.

  • Narcolepsy – Characterised by extreme tiredness with intermittent sleepiness and possible involuntary napping during the day.

  • Restless Legs Syndrome – This is a discomfort in the lower legs that makes the affected person need to move their legs or walk around. The symptoms become worse later in the day.

  • Breathing-Related Sleep Disorders – Most commonly, this involves Sleep Apnoea, where the upper airway is blocked, causing airflow and breathing to stop for a time during sleep.

  • Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder – The sleeper may shout, sleepwalk, or move vigorously when asleep.

  • Hypersomnolence Disorder – Symptoms may include excessive daytime sleepiness, prolonged night-time sleep, or feeling compelled to nap during the day.

  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders – These occur when there are abnormalities in the body's internal clock, leading to difficulty falling asleep at a normal bedtime. Subtypes include Jet lag Disorder, Delayed or Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder, Shift Work Disorder, Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome, and Irregular Sleep-Wake Disorder.

  • Non–Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Arousal Disorders – Characterised by episodes of incomplete awakening from sleep. They may involve sleepwalking or night terrors.

  • Nightmare Disorder – Repeated awakenings during sleep with a detailed recall of extremely frightening dreams, usually involving threats to survival, security, or self-esteem.

  • Substance/Medication-Induced Sleep Disorder – Sleep-wake problems caused by alcohol or other substances, including prescribed medicines.

What are the symptoms?

Many individuals suffering from sleep disorders are unaware of their condition. The symptoms of sleep-wake disorders are largely dependent on the type of disorder, however some of the common signs may include:

  • Feeling extreme tiredness upon waking

  • Feeling fatigued or during the day

  • Extreme difficulty getting to sleep

  • Waking up frequently during the night or early in the morning

  • Snoring or pauses in breathing while asleep

  • Poor concentration

  • Irritability

  • Difficulty staying awake during the day

  • Headaches

  • Physical agitation of the legs

  • Mood swings

How are Sleep-Wake Disorders Treated?

Treatment for sleep-wake disorders and sleep problems varies depending on the type and severity of the condition. Effective treatments for Sleep-Wake Disorders may include some or all of the following:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which addresses thinking and behavioural patterns that contribute to the maintenance of Sleep-Wake Disorders. Behavioural approaches may involve making changes to sleep hygiene, such as maintaining regular sleep-wake times, avoiding naps, engaging in regular routines, and avoiding stimulating activities and substances within several hours of bedtime.

  • Individual psychological therapy- Aside from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, individual therapy may involve relaxation training, techniques for stress reduction, education, or assistance with life-style changes.

  • Addressing mental health conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety that contribute to the maintenance of the sleep-wake condition.

  • Medications such as melatonin, wake-promoting agents, and short-term sleep aids may be used to adjust and maintain the sleep-wake cycle.

  • Bright Light Therapy - Bright light therapy works by resetting the circadian clock. The timing of this treatment is critical and requires guidance from a sleep specialist.

  • Addressing other physical health conditions or substance use that may contribute to the sleep condition.

Treating Sleep-Wake Disorders at Sovereignty Counselling

Your clinician at Sovereignty Counselling will conduct a thorough assessment to assist in determining whether you are suffering from a Sleep-Wake Disorder and identify the severity of your symptoms. This may involve a referral to an external source such as a sleep clinic to aid in the assessment process. We will then seek to determine the most effective intervention and develop an individualised treatment plan based on your particular situation and symptoms.

Based on your assessment and treatment plan, your clinician may offer you one or more of the following interventions to treat a Sleep-Wake Disorder or associated conditions:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), including sleep hygiene

  • Mindfulness or Relaxation Training

  • Treatments to address stress, anxiety, depression, or other underlying conditions

  • Assistance with making lifestyle changes

  • Drug/alcohol Counselling

  • Family Therapy

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

  • Solution-Focused Therapy

  • Skills Training

  • Psycho-Education

Your therapist may also recommend a referral to another health worker, such as a psychiatrist, sleep disorder specialist, or general practitioner either as an alternative to or in addition to your treatment at Sovereignty Counselling.

To find out more or to make an appointment, please contact us.