The United States faces an epidemic of fatigue with 60 million people suffering from insomnia and 23 million people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Consequently, over half the U.S. population experiences varying degrees of sleeplessness.
Poor sleep causes people to suffer mentally, emotionally, relationally, vocationally, physically and medically. Sleeplessness also leads to significant health problems with lasting personal, economic and social repercussions.
For example, insomnia sufferers are 73 percent more at-risk for anxiety and 69 percent more at-risk for depression. These disorders are even more pronounced for the elderly, with over 50 percent of the elderly experiencing some form of insomnia. Further, poor sleep health is associated with obesity, diabetes, viral infections, cardiovascular problems, cancer, increased pain, memory loss and impaired judgment.
The good news is you can self-regulate poor sleep health with a three-tier plan for restoring yourself to a deeper, more rejuvenating sleep experience, enhancing your physical, emotional, and mental health.
This three-tier plan has been developed by Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., with the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine (UA-CIM). Dr. Naiman is one of Dr. Andrew Weil’s integrative sleep health colleagues at UA-CIM. Moreover, the work of Gregg Jacobs, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, whose research at Harvard Medical School is featured in his CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) program has been integrated in this blog. Dr. Jacobs' research has been shown to be more effective than medication management of insomnia.
Below is a brief outline of the three-tier plan along with a few helpful tips for each tier that can alleviate sleeplessness, increase self-regulation, and lead to a restorative and rejuvenating sleep.
(1) Attending to the Body:
• Lifestyle changes – Learn how to pay attention to natural sleep-awake rhythms and sleep scheduling. Learn how to incorporate exercise and good nutrition into a healthful lifestyle. Also, learn how to regulate caffeine and alcohol consumption. (Tip: Exercise three to six hours before bedtime and commit to 30 minutes of exercise a day on most days.)
• Medical – Learn how to identify, understand, and self-regulate ones' physical condition, symptoms, pain, and discomfort. (Tip: Achieving optimal sleep can increase ones' pain threshold by up to 200 percent.)
• Medication – Learn how to understand side effects, ineffectiveness associated with long-term use, and the implications from reduction and elimination of sleep medications. (Tip: Increasing the natural neuro-moduator, adenosine in your brain enhances sleep drive throughout the day.)
(2) Attending to the Mind:
• Cognitive Behavior Therapy – Learn how to understand and control your irrational and negative thoughts and behaviors. (Tip: Use positive sleep thoughts to fall into a gentle, deep sleep.)
• Values and Beliefs – Learn how to apply values and beliefs for a meaningful sleep experience. (Tip: Use restorative sleep to repair cells and gain a fresh perspective.)
• Spiritual/Religious Practice – Learn how to use ones' spiritual and religious practice to restore sleep at a deeper level. (Tip: Surrender and let go, allowing for a restorative altered state of rest and rejuvenation.)
(3) Attending to the Bedroom:
• Physical Environment – Learn how to create a calm and restful environment to increase sleep. (Tip: Keep your bedroom cool, dark, quiet, and clean. Also, another way to calm your mind is by clearing your nightstand.)
• Subtle Environment – Learn about chemical and energy influences on sleep. (Tip: Avoid chemicals in mattresses, overly dramatic television programs before bedtime, late night computer use, and light from electronic devices such as an alarm clock.)
• Social Environment – Learn how to improve sleeping with ones' partner. (Tip: Use the healing power of touch, nurturance, and love to relax.)
Original Copywrite by Ed Glauser, June 18, 2012, mindbodymedicinenetwork