For many, being awake at night and then tired during the day is a relentless cycle and extended periods of sleepless nights can be life-wrecking. Solving the problem is not simple but how you think may be the key to getting a good night’s sleep.
Clinical psychologist Dr John Brown says sleep is often about managing stress properly.
“People are aware of good sleep habits such as timing, avoiding stimulants, temperature and so on but the habits of thinking are often overlooked. The way we deal with stress and how we process our thoughts can contribute to poor sleep patterns. CBT and other behaviour therapies can be very effective when addressing issues with sleep,” Dr Brown said.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teaches a person to change their thoughts (cognition) and their behaviours. The aim is to assess negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and constructive thoughts and behaviours. Research on CBT for insomnia has found that it addresses the factors of long-term insomnia and produces more long-lasting improvements than drug therapy.
In some circumstances, problems with sleep may require a multidisciplinary approach.
“Pain and sleep apnoea are some medical reasons for not sleeping. Multidisciplinary treatment sees sleep psychologists work in combination with medical sleep specialists,” Dr Brown said.
Dr John Brown is the Director of PsychSessions, a Canberra-based psychology practice with clinics in Deakin and Canberra City. PsychSessions provides clinical psychological and treatment for a wide variety of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and sleep problems. The psychologists at PsychSessions all have a masters degree or a doctorate, with many publishing research.
“Our Deakin clinic is co-located with the Canberra Sleep Clinic so that we can work together to provide integrated, cooperative care for people with insomnia and other sleep disorders. It is one of the only places in Australia where patients can see a sleep physician and a sleep psychologist at the same time,” Dr Brown said.
Seeing a psychologist for any mental health condition is covered under Medicare with a referral and the Mental Health Treatment Plan from a GP.
“For mental health conditions, it’s better to seek treatment earlier for the best outcomes. Talk to your GP if you are unsure. Your GP can help you decide if your concerns need the help of a psychologist, or just make a single appointment with a psychologist. If you are struggling with sleep or any other mental health issues you will find some benefit by seeing a psychologist by just talking and learning about yourself and others,” Dr Brown said.