So, it's the Tuesday after a long, joyous, holiday weekend and you're back at work like the rest of us. And lets be honest, if you had the kind of weekend I had, you're probably going to look a little tired. Now looking tired, and being told you look tired are two very different things- and if I had to guess, I'd say that etiquette experts across the country have probably NOT been teaching their students that a concerned, "YOU LOOK TIRED" is the most warm, affectionate, and appropriate greeting of them all. (Cue eye-roll).
In fact, I'm still not too sure who came up with this delightful phrase, but my conclusion is that it is hard to find a way to take this statement as anything but an insult. I cringe when someone tells me how tired I look (and I have to confess that the facial expression that gets returned to the person who has applied that statement to me is also not always the most pleasant either).
So what's the deal?
For those who have chronic sleeping problems or a diagnosis of Insomnia, hearing that phrase might not only seem like an insult, but also like a quick visit from captain obvious.. Am I right? If we can't sleep, we're usually ACUTELY aware of how tired we feel (and maybe look). The last thing we want to hear is that we look as bad as we're feeling. So you ask.. "Why ARE we so tired?" What is Insomnia?" And of course, "Dr. B how do we start to look and feel better??"
WHY ARE WE SO TIRED? The United States as a whole is not getting a lot of sleep. In fact, as compared to other countries, the US and Japan are the countries that sleep the least. *1 Reasons for this are largely attributed to societal factors- like work schedules, unlimited access to technology, stressors and distractions; but also due to the presence of sleep disorders (like insomnia). And guess what, a LOT of people in America have sleep-wake disorders...like 50-70 million-"a lot." *2
WHAT IS INSOMNIA? (And more importantly- DO I HAVE IT??)
One type of sleep-wake disorder is Insomnia (those who suffer from it are affectionately called "insomniacs"). Insomnia is when a person has the opportunity for adequate sleep, but despite this, has difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up much earlier than planned. Many people may have had this happen in their life, but with insomnia, this problem is persistent or chronic in nature- and it of course, must be bothering the person suffering from it (e.g., the person is usually unable to function as they would if they had adequate sleep- they do not wake up feeling refreshed, the sleep difficulties may impact their energy levels, moods, relationships, work life, health, etc). Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication. *3 If you have more questions about insomnia, you should visit your medical or mental health provider and discuss your symptoms and the diagnosis.
SO I THINK I HAVE INSOMNIA- NOW WHAT?
Here you were, trying to go about your Tuesday in a positive way, and now, thanks to this blog you probably at least think you have insomnia (or maybe you're one of the 50-70 million Americans who really do!) Now what? How do you get people to stop telling you that you look so damn tired all the time? Even better, how do actually start sleeping and treat this problem? I'm sure you have heard of some remedies for sleep- whether they were homeopathic, the product of an old's wive's tale, or everyone's favorite (let's say it together now)- PILLS! I have heard people tell me all sorts of things that they do for sleep, and sadly, how often these things don't work. I get it- when you can't sleep, you SUFFER. You'll try anything once... well let's talk about the one thing you probably haven't tried.
Before we go any further- I have to tell you something. I am an insomnia expert. Also, SPOILER ALERT- I am a clinical psychologist. I know what you're thinking- "Say what??? Dr. B I thought you said you could help me sleep? I can't TALK AWAY my sleep problems on your silly little shrink couch" (And FYI I have a very cute little shrink couch, I really do).
In all seriousness, let's take a moment to talk about the newest, front-line treatment for insomnia (this was only recently published in the major medical journals, so it is a trend that is
currently on it's way up, but still relatively unknown; basically you're about to get the inside information) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- for Insomnia (also fondly known as CBT-I). This treatment regiment is about six weeks in duration, performed by psychologists who have specialized training, is ALL-NATURAL and has a really high success rate. The short-version is
that this specialized treatment uses cognitive and behavioral techniques and strategies to help an individual come up with a personalized sleep plan based on their needs, current sleep patterns, and histories, in order to minimize and treat insomnia. Focused on the perpetuating
behaviors that impact and maintain cycles of chronic insomnia, this treatment helps target problematic sleep behaviors and thoughts and ends with a skill-based relapse prevention guide that can help continuous recovery from insomnia after treatment has ended. So I guess the real question is, are you ready to start sleeping better? Please visit my website for more information about CBT-I, or to schedule an appointment today..