Countdown To World Sleep Day with Podcast Eight – Dr. Charles Morin on Insomnia

Countdown To World Sleep Day with Podcast Eight – Dr. Charles Morin on Insomnia

To celebrate World Sleep Day, The Sleep Forum and World Sleep Society have come together to produce a podcast series about different aspects of sleep.

In this podcast, Doug Green, Publisher of The Sleep Forum and Allan O’Bryan, Executive Director of The Sleep Society speak with guest speaker, Dr. Charles Morin, professor of psychology and Director of the Sleep Research Center at Laval University in Quebec City.

O’Bryan explains to our listeners that “world sleep society is a non-profit, membership based organization representing sleep researchers and clinicians around the world focusing on awareness and education. Our leadership is volunteers looking to promote sleep worldwide. We use World Sleep Day as opportunity for our membership reach out to the public and highlight the importance of sleep.”

"Insomnia is the most prevalent of all sleep disorders with chronic insomnia affecting 10 percent of the adult population, says Morin. Insomnia occurs when a person has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. However, comments Morin, "it is a 24 hour problem that impairs the persons daytime functioning and productivity. When it occurs a minimum of more than 3 nights a week and occurs for three months or more it is categorized as insomnia disorder."

When asked about the short and long term consequences of chronic insomnia, Morin exclaimed, "many people trivialize insomnia but studies have show that chronic insomnia will affect both your mental and physical health." Morin spoke about an increase in disability or absence from work, depression, hypertension, cardiac disease and the list goes on.

The first line of treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavior therpay (cbt). CBT specific to insomnia is a psychotherapy focused on sleep and problem solving. Morin speaks about how cbt works by changing poor sleep schedules and habits, targeting worries or beliefs and, many times, decreasing the amount of time people spend in bed. Other behavior changes Morin recommends is going to bed when you are sleepy and not earlier, getting up the same hour every morning and using the bedroom to sleep only.

Morin briefly mentions that many different classes of medication and new agents are available by prescription and over the counter to treat insomnia, usually on a short term basis. The use of sleep medication every night for a prolonged period of time might create a tolerance and/or dependency. For chronic insomnia, cbt treatment is still the best choice. Although it will take longer to work, the long term benefits last long after therapy ends.

O'Bryan mentions that World Sleep Day created a list called 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults and Morin added the following additional recommendations. "People need to also keep realistic sleep expectations - even the best sleepers in the world might not sleep every night. You should avoid stimulants and alcohol which will fragment your sleep. Lastly, it is not effective to work until the last minute and then go to sleep. You need to reserve a period to unwind before bedtime. Most important, you must apply and practice these strategies on a regular basis."

Morin recommends that shift workers "go the extra mile to protect his/her sleep. Shift workers need to adapt their lifestyle and get home and to sleep before noon. They should plan for a short nap and have a sleep environment that is quiet and protected from outside noises. Also, for support, shift workers need to alert family and friends of their work situation."

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