Behavioral Health and Wellness: Sleep Disorders Treatment Protocol
Treatment Objective: Supplement your medical treatment with behavioral health and wellness. Through evaluation of your unique sleep disorder and the biofeedback / mindfulness process, learn how to become self-aware on a deeper level to identify key triggers, feelings, reactions, changes in physiology, behaviors, and the patterns and dynamics of your sleep condition. Learn and practice natural wellness strategies that may help correct certain mental, physical, and behavioral triggering factors affecting sleep, those that are within your control. The biofeedback process can demonstrate to you your own improvement in terms of lowering stress and anxiety, and teach you how to use your own internal awareness to self-correct negative patterns affecting sleep on a daily basis, but most importantly, prior to settling down to go to sleep.
First Session Goals
Sleep Evaluation Prepare investigation of sleep problem strategy, use Sleep Log to track progress, identify known symptom triggering factors w/ rating scale, history and description of sleep problem(s), general lifestyle factors and daily stressors that may also contribute to sleep disorder
Working with key nervous systems (central, autonomic, somatic, endocrine-glands)
Brain waves and sleep cycles / Hormones and circadian rhythms / Sunlight in the day, darkness in the night / Synchronizing and harmonizing with nature
Health and science – general knowledge about sleep health and sleep disorders
Natural principles, lifestyle factors, and health strategies that may help improve sleep
Cognitive & behavioral approaches to healing sleep / Biofeedback – stress management & mindfulness approaches
Create Treatment Goals (including practice strategies for in between sessions)
Sessions 2-5 Sleep Treatment Program Goals
Insomnia may be a 24-hour-a-day problem!
Bio (biology) Feedback: Your inner stress and tension can be observed in real time through applied sensors sending information (i.e., muscle tension, heart rate, hand temperature, breathing, etc.) to a computer screen displaying variable physiological changes though several visual picture and numeric graphs. There is also sound feedback that may be used to support self-awareness of muscle tensing up and relaxing patterns, changes in heart rate, among other symptoms of “fight or flight” stress reactions. Through the computer-aided feedback and also Dr. Allen’s supportive verbal feedback and training, you can learn and practice direct ways to make the unaware aware, to gain your own self-awareness and the use of numerous healing strategies to learn how to correct unconscious stress patterns, and restore inner-relaxed mind and body harmony and integrity throughout the day and night. This may help with restoring healthier sleep patterns.
Cognitive and Behavioral Approaches: Restoring healthy sleep patterns requires adhering to certain principles inherent in nature. Stressful thinking in general and worry about sleep may contribute significantly to the interference of good sleep. Further, lifestyle factors can influence poor sleep patterns. Learn key behavioral and sleep science principles that support healing sleep. Set up a program using the key sleep healing principles, and begin a journey into self-awareness, stress management, and mindfulness.
Some Key Principles and Sleep Healing Issues to Consider:
- Nighttime Awakenings: What to do when you awaken at various times throughout the night and how to get back to sleep
- Process C: Sensitive to light / dark cycles: Circadian rhythms—24-hr cycle, address disruptive body-mind-clock factors, consistency of bedtime and waking up at the same time every day – setting up the ideal amount of sleep and consistent sleep schedule
- Process S: Seeking a homeostatic drive for sleep: Problem: too much time in bed. Need sleep consolidation – to not squander upcoming sleep savings, quality & efficiency of sleep driven by sleep appetite. No naps or dozing. Sleep restriction before bedtime.
- Follow patterns of ancestors: Sunlight exposure in the day, darkness exposure at night, low light levels at night, wind-down strategies, set sleep intention. The next morning, awaken gradually, start the day patiently, get morning sunlight.
- Follow a healing diet and no heavy meals late at night
- Recognize sleep signals when they come: Recognizing drowsiness vs. fatigue, hyperarousal at night, and stress and anxiety. Learn and practice mental wind-down and physical de-arousal strategies. Realize nighttime consciousness.
- Sleep hygiene (limit time spent in bed, too much effort to sleep, substances that arouse, eating at night, environmental overstimulation at bedtime (noise, temperature, light, or factors that reduce feelings of comfort and safety), bad sleep habits
- Tracking Sleep Quality: Using sleep log, record quality of sleep and other relevant factors to track progress.
- If anxiety is a cause of insomnia: Get to the heart of the issues causing sleep disturbance. Work through issues. Learn how to compartmentalize stressful issues during sleep time to settle down at night.
Mindfulness and meditation: Learn how to feel present-moment awareness in a way that may help you let go of stress and prepare more effectively for sleep. Through mindfulness and stress management training, you may learn to see your sleep pattern in a new way, and be open to positive solutions you may not have been aware of. Mindfulness may help you to experience the sleep problem in a more compassionate way, and avoid mental traps that perpetuate insomnia.
Guided-imagery and relaxation strategies: Learn basic imagery skills to help soothe the mind to enhance sleep onset. Guided imagery is a cognitive skill that can be useful to distract away anxious thinking. Diaphragmatic breathing and muscle relaxation strategies can assist by slowing down brain waves and heart rate, and releasing physical tension.
Dr. Allen can help you design nightly guided imagery exercises along with the relaxation strategies that your can use to support sleep.
Major Wellness Training Concepts to improve sleep: Reduce the allostatic load (the sum total of all stressors and contributors causing the sleep disorder. Seek to identify and eliminate the root causes, daily contributors, and well-conditioned perpetuators of sleep disorder. And lastly, Good Stress Management
Additional Wellness Strategies:
- Stress management and coping skills training (learn ways to reduce stress and anxiety). Counseling and psychotherapy available for working with issues contributing to stress, anxiety, and depression. Support services for managing academic and work demands during periods of insomnia.
- Diet and wellness lifestyle tips for improving sleep, and restoring inner well-being.
- Manage your life when insomnia patterns are episodic or chronic (how to reduce stress and increase energy, set priorities, and wind down at night.
- Dr. Allen’s program works well along with a client’s ongoing medical treatment.
- Length of Treatment Programs: 3-5 sessions for basic skills exposure and training, additional sessions may be beneficial for more challenging conditions and to further enhance skills.
- Provide practice strategies and educational training handouts for in between sessions.