Sleepy? Pay attention!

Are you sleepy during the day? Do you feel fatigue, moody and restless?

There might be a variety of reasons someone is not getting enough sleep. Sleep disturbances are the most common complain of the western population to their general doctor. Research has shown that sleeping problems are connected to serious psychological disturbances, such as depression and anxiety. They are also linked to inability to make decisions, to obtain new knowledge, and work efficiently. Thus, if you or someone close to you is feeling sleepy and tired during the day you should seek for therapy and advise. Here are some useful tips of what you can do:

• Search for a sleep specialist, fortunately sleep awareness is growing and there are people nowadays specialised in this area and following well researched therapy approaches, such as cognitive behavioral psychotherapy for insomnia (CBT-i), chronotherapy, light-therapy, and counseling. Please make sure that the sleep therapist you are visiting has the appropriate experience and background! Do a background internet search of their studies and work, ask questions about their work experience and the methods they use to treat the problem. Basically do not hesitate to inquire information about them, it is a health problem you would like to deal with and as you would make sure to go to a good doctor you want to make sure you are going to a proper sleep specialist/therapist.

• Go to your general practitioner, but do not accept medicine as a solution before you have tried everything else! It is better if you ask for blood tests before you move on to any kind of therapy, especially if you know you are sleeping enough but do not feel rested. Sometimes a medical condition can be the underlying reason of your distracted sleep; or maybe one of the reasons.

• Sleep clinics. In many hospitals there is a sleep clinic or lab included. Ask your doctor or you sleep therapist to refer you to one nearby. There you can do an overnight sleep study (polysomnography) to gather information about your nighttime sleep. During the exam you will be connected to an electroencephalogram (EEG), which monitors the stages of your sleep. A sleep study also measures things like oxygen levels, body movements and breathing rhythm. From my experience, in the Netherlands, sleep clinics have highly qualified experts and tools. On the other hand, I would advise you to visit one only if you have already tried sleep therapy/counseling but your sleeping problem is still obscure and your complains are not resolved. The reason I am suggesting this is because, usually, the waiting lists are long and health insurances may not provide coverage.