When to Seek Help for Sleeplessness

Most people experience trouble sleeping from time to time. It is possible that work stress/deadlines, caregiving responsibilities or elder care can cause a disruption in sleep. However, if the sleep problems persist and begin to interfere with daytime functioning, then one should consider getting help. There are a variety of treatment options for poor sleep and most experts would say that making a few simple behavioral changes can improve sleep. However, when the sleeplessness persists despite improved sleep hygiene or other behavioral changes, then one may wish to consult with someone who is trained in addressing sleep problems.

Options one should consider

  • Speaking with one’s Primary Care Provider (PCP): It is important to discuss all new or ongoing concerns about sleep with one’s PCP.  One’s provider should be able to look into whether medical conditions or medications, depression or other mood problems could be contributing to insomnia. In preparation, keep track of your sleep patterns with a sleep diary for one week to ten days before the visit, as well as jot down what one has done so far to improve sleep. Providers may prescribe sleep medication if appropriate. After ruling out anything medical that might be interfering with sleep, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may be recommended.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT has been proven to be a highly effective, evidence-based approach to behavioral change. In fact, studies show that CBT-I, which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, is shown to be more effective than medication in the long-term treatment of insomnia. To learn more about CBT-I, contact UI Employee Assistance Program (UI EAP). They have both resources and clinicians who are knowledgeable about sleep. One may have four free visits a year with UI EAP. One may also choose to utilize your insurance benefits and see a behavioral health care professional at UI Health Care or in the community. 
  • Sleep Studies: If an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, shortened sleep duration or restless legs syndrome is suspected, your provider might recommend a sleep study in a sleep lab. A sleep study can validate awakenings and problems with sleep onset to determine if there are any medical contributions to sleeplessness. If so, that information may be helpful when working with a therapist to assist with the treatment of insomnia.

Please contact us to discuss your sleep concerns. Before your visit with the UI EAP you may wish to record your sleep concerns using the tools below:

UI Employee Assistance Program

Campus address
121-50 USB
U.S. mailing address
The University of Iowa
121 University Services Bldg., Ste. 50
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911