Understanding Sleep Problems
Sleep serves many physiological and psychological purposes. It is essentially a reset button for your organs and brain.When you sleep your brain is working, it is processing information it received during the day.
When we sleep we are also resolving the psychological problems that we are facing; some of which are expressed in our dreams.
What is not worked through at night is known as the “day residue.” These topics are things we think about, talk about and share with our family, friends and therapist.
The content of our dreams may seem irrelevant, but most often they have meaning. Dreams do NOT predict the future; they are a mixture of the day’s events combined with the deeper issues that you are grappling with.
Why does 33% of America have trouble sleeping?
Most people who are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep are anxious.
If you fall asleep but wake up an hour or two later, and perhaps keep waking up, you probably are doing so because you are suffering from anxiety.
Difficulty sleeping is a hallmark of depression.
Very depressed people have trouble waking up in the morning and feel fatigued regardless of how much sleep they get.
Some people who are depressed have early morning awakening. They wake up at 4 a.m. and are not able to go back to sleep.
Bipolar disorder is often diagnosed by the kind of sleep disturbance that an individual has. Bipolar people can sometimes stay awake for 36 hours straight, without a problem. At other times, they sleep deep into the day.
If you have these problems you should consult a doctor.
What keeps you awake?
Wives usually complain that their husband snores. This may mean a check-up by an E.N.T. (Ears, Nose and Throat doctor) to rule out sleep apnea. BTW, husbands complain that wives snore too…it is an equal opportunity condition!
Physical symptoms often cause people to wake up. Pain wakes people, although night sweats (often due to menopause) do also. Restless leg syndrome and the need to urinate are other reasons. All of these symptoms can be relieved and should be discussed with your medical doctor.
Light, noise, heat and other environmental conditions may also be interfering with your ability to fall or stay asleep.
Please read the section entitled Sleep Hygiene to learn more about this issue including Do It Yourself tips from Dr. Lipkins Tools for Life!
Sleep Medications are Prescribed by a Doctor
Many, many people take sleep medications to help them sleep. The newest medicines leave you well rested and not groggy, if you allow yourself a full 6 hours to sleep once you have taken the medicine.
Each kind of sleep medicine is targeted for a different kind of problem. Some are long acting, to make sure you sleep through the night. Some are short acting, for people who need help getting to sleep, or for the middle of the night wakening. Some may affect your sleep architecture (dreams, etc.) and some may not. Which medicine works best for you, is a decision that occurs when you speak to your doctor.
What Kind of Doctor Do I See?
Internists, prescribe sleep medications, and this is a good place to start, in order to rule out any medical conditions that may cause your sleep problems.
Psychiatrists also specialize in sleep. An evaluation can help determine if you have psychological problems that are causing your sleeplessness or sleepiness.
On occasion cardiologists and neurologists may prescribe sleep medications.