Sleep WA has developed an innovative Insomnia Management Program with non-drug therapies to treat chronic insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders. Insomnia Management is available at our Nedlands location. Please read below to learn more about the program and find answers to commonly asked questions.
Up to 10% of the population suffers from chronic insomnia and this condition is most often managed with prescription sleep medications. Unfortunately, long term use of sleep medication may be habit forming and is associated with other risks such as fatigue, cognitive impairment, falls, and motor vehicle accidents. Sleep medications also lose their effectiveness over time and symptoms of insomnia resurface. Sleep WA utilises non-drug therapy for treatment of insomnia to more effectively reduce or eliminate symptoms of chronic insomnia.
At the onset of the program, every patient will complete a questionnaire regarding insomnia symptoms, sleep patterns, and general health. Along with completing the questionnaire, most individuals will wear an activity monitoring watch for two weeks. This watch monitors one’s activity and subsequently provides information regarding sleep pattern and total sleep duration for each night the watch is worn. This, in turn, helps classify the type of insomnia that one may have.
A patient will then have a consultation with a Sleep Specialist, Dr Jack Philpott, to discuss major issues with sleep and insomnia. Dr Philpott will review the results of the patient’s sleep questionnaire and activity watch information during this appointment. If indicated, Dr Philpott may recommend a sleep study to rule out a sleep disorder (such as sleep apnoea or restless legs) as the cause of insomnia.
CBT is the most effective treatment for chronic insomnia. At Sleep WA, our practice nurse, Paula Bailey, is trained to provide CBT for insomnia CBT sessions aim to improve sleep habits, change sleep behaviour, restructure negative thoughts about sleep and reduce anxiety associated with inability to initiate or maintain sleep.
Blue or green light therapy involves use of a small device which produces the most effective light for the suppression of melatonin. This can boost mood, increase energy levels, and adjust sleep patterns. The light is administered for 30 minutes either in the morning or during the evening, whichever is appropriate. Light therapy is most commonly used for shift workers or those with Circadian Rhythm (24-hour clock) disorders.
Length of the Insomnia Management Program is variable and based on individual needs. Results from CBT may be produced in as little as 1-3 sessions or may take up to 6-8 sessions. Trials of blue and green light therapy are typically six weeks. At times, light therapy may be recommended alongside CBT. At the end of a trial of light therapy, a patient has the option to extend the trial or purchase the device for use at home.
It is not mandatory that a patient discontinue use of prescription or over-the-counter sleep medications. An individual’s use of sleep aids and their relative effectiveness in treating insomnia will be discussed in consultation with Dr Jack Philpott and throughout sessions of CBT. Although prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids may be used during the insomnia management program, one of the goals of the program should be to reduce or eliminate use of drug therapy to treat insomnia. As mentioned, long-term use of prescription sleep medications is associated with various medical risks such as fatigue, cognitive impairment, falls, motor vehicle accidents, etc. Additionally, sleep tablets typically lose their effectiveness when taken for longer than six months and then insomnia symptoms resurface.
Throughout the program, a patient will complete insomnia questionnaires and sleep diaries to subjectively evaluate any improvements to insomnia symptoms and sleep quality. At the end of the program, a patient may also have a second (one week) trial of Actiwatch to objectively measure any improvements in sleep pattern. A report describing pre-trial and post-trial information is then forwarded to a patient’s General Practitioner (GP) so that he or she is aware of the patient’s participation and progress in the Insomnia Management Program.