Health Topics

Lifestyle and Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders

Lifestyle and Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders

If you find yourself lying awake at night, there are different lifestyle and behavioral treatments that can help. Visit the listing below and learn more about what adjustments you can make in your life for a better night’s sleep.

  • Relaxation Training. Relaxation training methods such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), deep breathing techniques, imagery and self-hypnosis might help some people deal with sleep disorders. PMR involves helping the individual to sequentially tense and relax the body’s major muscle groups while concentrating on and contrasting sensations of tension and relaxation. Daily practice of relaxation techniques between therapy sessions is essential and can enhance the treatment’s effectiveness.
  • Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive therapy for insomnia includes interventions meant to help people identify and correct inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that might contribute to insomnia. Cognitive therapy can give people the proper information about sleep norms, age-related sleep changes, reasonable sleep goals and the influence of naps and exercise.
  • Stimulus Control (SC). Stimulus control derives from the belief that insomnia might be related to associating the bedroom with activities other than sleep and sex.
  • Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT). Sleep restriction therapy is based on the belief that excess time in bed makes sleep problems worse. SRT consists of limiting a person’s time in bed to only that time when he or she is sleeping.
  • Sleep Hygiene. The concept of sleep hygiene refers to practices, habits and environmental factors that are important for sound sleep. The four general areas important to sleep hygiene are the circadian rhythm (24-hour cycle), aging, psychological stressors that cause mini-awakenings (in which the brain wakes up for just a few seconds), and substances such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.

The Four Areas of Sleep Hygiene

In order to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, four different lifestyle and environmental areas need to be addressed. Visit the listing below to better understand the different factors affecting your daily sleep:

  1. Circadian Rhythms - Circadian rhythms influence when, how much and how well people sleep. These rhythms might be altered by various factors, including naps, bedtime, exercise and, most crucially, exposure to light.
  2. Age - Aging plays a role in sleep and sleep hygiene. Sleep patterns change after people reach the age of 40, and there are many more nocturnal awakenings as people age. The awakenings affect sleep quality and can interact with any other condition that might cause arousals or awakenings. The more awakenings people experience at night, the more likely they will awaken not feeling rested.
  3. Psychological Stressors - Psychological stressors such as exams, deadlines or job problems might interfere with sleep. It is beneficial for people to develop some kind of pre-sleep ritual to break the connection between stress and bedtime. Some people find it helpful to make a list of all the stressors of the day, along with a plan to deal with them. In addition, periods of relaxation can help a person get to sleep.
  4. Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol - Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can negatively affect your shuteye. Caffeine can stay in the body as long as 14 hours and can increase the number of times you awaken at night, decreasing your total amount of sleep time. The effects of nicotine, when consumed in high doses, are similar to those of caffeine. Alcohol might initially sedate you, making it easier to fall asleep. The downside to alcohol is that as it is metabolized and cleared from your system during sleep it causes arousals that can last as long as two to three hours after it has been eliminated.

For more information on sleeping problems, download our free Sleep Treatment Guide.