Most people experience trouble sleeping from time to time. Work stress, deadlines, caregiving responsibilities, or elder care all can cause disruptions in sleep. However, if the sleep problems persist and begin to interfere with daytime functioning, 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 sleeplessness persists despite improved sleep hygiene or other behavioral changes, then one may wish to consult with a professional trained in addressing sleep problems.
Options to Consider
- Speaking with one’s primary care provider: It is important to discuss all new or ongoing concerns about sleep with one’s doctor or other primary health care provider. Your provider can look into whether medical conditions, 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 10 days before the visit and jot down what you've 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 may be recommended.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be a highly effective, evidence-based approach to behavioral change. In fact, studies show that CBT-I—cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia—is more effective than medication in long-term treatment of insomnia. To learn more about CBT-I, contact the Employee Assistance Program. We have both resources and clinicians who are knowledgeable about sleep and offer employees up to four free visits a year. You also may 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 EAP, you may wish to record your sleep concerns using the tools below: