Functioning During the Daytime
If you have a bad night, you know how it affects you the next day. Some people are affected more than others. Many become more irritable. Daily activities, including tasks for work or school, and housework, may feel more challenging. You may feel somewhat discouraged. Sometimes, people feel like being alone rather than getting together with friends. You may also notice being more physically clumsy, for example, bumping into furniture more than usual.
The good news: Although things feel harder to do after a bad night, often people perform their work and home activities to near the same levels as after a good night.
The not-so-good news: When insomnia continues and becomes chronic, people may experience slowed reaction time, reduced attention, worsened short-term memory, and lower performance at work. Chronic insomnia also increases the risk of developing clinical depression.
More good news: With treatment of insomnia, mood improves and mental functioning is expected to return to normal.
Researchers who have studied groups of people with insomnia over a number of years and compared their health to groups without insomnia have made some interesting discoveries related to health. These “longitudinal” studies show that people with chronic insomnia have a higher risk of having car crashes and higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (chance of heart attack or stroke) and type 2 diabetes.
The good news: There is little reason to believe that these risks cannot be reduced by effectively treating the insomnia. Research is underway to test this. In any event, it makes good sense to reverse the insomnia in order to—at the very least—improve sleep, mood and wellbeing. The best treatment we have is called cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I effectively treats insomnia, and improves mood, functioning and quality of life.
Usual treatment: CBT-I
Where to start: If you want to do CBT-I, you can either do it on your own, by following a book (e.g., Sink into Sleep), an online program (e.g., Sleepio, SHUT-i) or with the help from a clinician who is trained in behavioural sleep medicine. In addition, HALEO offers online CBT-I with 1:1 help from a therapist.
Note: Unless your physician suspects that you may have another sleep disorder, other than insomnia, there is no need to have an overnight sleep study. This will just confirm what you already know—that you have trouble sleeping!