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5 Tips For Better Sleep

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Post-Stroke Insomnia

Why is catching zzzs so important for stroke survivors? Good, consistent rest aids healing, helps equalize mood and insulin levels, and provides energy needed for stroke rehabilitaion and recovery. But even more important, it can help prevent recurring strokes. A Taiwanese study presented to the American Heart Association found that those with sleep disorders and insomnia were twice as likely to have heart attacks or strokes than those without those issues.

Because insomnia can have causes that are both physiological and psychological, it can be complex to treat, but one approach that can be very successful is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a goal-driven therapy that helps patients changes patterns and beliefs that result from maladaptive thinking, and replace those ingrained patterns and thoughts with new skills and coping mechanisms.

According to Allison Harvey, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of California, and director of The Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic, there are two general categories of sleep issues: the anxiety-driven category, and the more behavioral, circadian problems, and recovery from a stroke can result in disturbances in both categories.

1. Circadian rhythms govern our body clock, and we can improve our sleep by keeping a regular sleep/wake schedule, going to bed at the same time each night, keeping the room dark by night and bright by day, and doing things to become sleepy, like scheduling a vigorous physical therapy session or afternoon workout.

2. Anxious worry is a very widespread issue that contributes to insomnia. When we are busy all day, bedtime is often the first time we pause. Then everything comes flooding back to us, and our bodies and brains have become conditioned to use our beds for worry time, or watching the news or tapping at the iPad or phone.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapeutic Treatment: To combat worry, there are cognitive therapy techniques to help people see the thinking traps they might be falling into, like dwelling on the negative. Try these tips:

  • Re-associating the bed with sleep and creating positive associations with falling asleep are two of the most powerful things you can do. Turn off phones and TVs, avoid falling asleep with a book, and treat the bed as a place solely for rest.
  • We can retrain our psychological system by learning to slow down, savor, and find things to feel good about.
  • Meditation and relaxation during the day helps wind you down and prepare the mind and body for sleep.
  • When falling asleep, don’t suppress bad thoughts that pop up; let them go.
  • Focus on the things that happened throughout the day that you feel proud of and grateful for; we need to reward ourselves for the little things done well instead of dwelling on the “what ifs.”

By: Stroke-Network.com Staff Writer

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"There are two general categories of sleep issues: the anxiety-driven category, and the more behavioral, circadian problems, and recovery from a stroke can result in disturbances in both categories. "

Because insomnia can have causes that are both physiological and psychological, it can be complex to treat, but one approach that can be very successful is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a goal-driven therapy that helps patients changes patterns and beliefs that result from maladaptive thinking, and replace those ingrained patterns and thoughts with new skills and coping mechanisms.