What is a Sleep Psychologist?
Problems with sleep are experienced by a very significant number of people at least once throughout life. In some countries, as high as 10% or more have reported that they have suffered from chronic insomnia.
While many people consult a medical doctor for their condition, seeing a sleep psychologist has been shown to be helpful to many people. Because of this, there is increasing attention for the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to treat disorders that have to do with sleep.
What does a sleep psychologist do?
A sleep psychologist specialises in problems that have to do with sleep. Although it is a field of psychology, a sleep psychologist will also look into behavioural and physiological (biological) considerations that may be affecting their patients’ sleep.
Sleep psychologists make diagnoses and administer treatment for sleep disorders. In particular, they focus more on the psychological and behavioural nature of these disorders. They have a professional understanding of physiological sleep problems as well, though they might refer you to a medical doctor for these problems.
They have formidable knowledge on sleep in general, including how sleep cycles work, medications that can affect it, and how to distinguish normal sleep patterns from abnormal ones. They will be able to tell you about how sleeping habits progress as you age, the effects of being sleep deprived, and how to treat sleep disorders.
Sleep psychologists help people by helping them relieve their sleep problems. A lot of them now use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is a psychological approach used to treat many problems. They may also use other approaches, such as relaxation training, stimulus control therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and other forms of cognitive therapy.
When should you see a sleep psychologist?
There are lots of reasons to approach a sleep psychologist. Not all of them have to be devastating or extreme. You can approach a sleep psychologist for simple problems as well – they can help you improve quality of life by allowing you get the most out of your sleep.
Some of the common problems that people have with their sleep include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Restless sleep
- Sleep disruption
- Fatigue during the day (not feeling well-rested after sleeping)
- Excessive napping during the day
- Loud or excessive snoring (that may be bothering your partner)
- Recurrent nightmares, sleep-walking, bed-wetting
There are also more clinical disorders that sleep psychologists can help with, like:
- Sleep-Breathing Disorders
- Sleep Cycle Abnormalities
- Night Terrors
- Sleep Paralysis
How much does a sleep psychologist cost?
Although the fee varies per psychologist, seeing a sleep psychologist can cost AU$260 or more per hour. A sleep psychologist is a specialist, so their time might cost a little more than a general psychologist.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep Psychologists
What branch of psychology is sleep?
Sleep psychology is its own branch of psychology. Psychologists that practice it specialise in psychological and behavioural aspects of sleep and sleep abnormalities. It also involves measuring sleep and administering evidence-based treatments for sleep disorders.
Can insomnia be psychological?
Insomnia can be psychological. In fact, stress, depression, and anxiety are some of the more common reasons that people develop insomnia. Because of this, psychological interventions can work to treat insomnia as well.
How do you fix sleep problems?
How you can fix a sleep problem depends on the particular problem, as well as the reason for the problem. Sleep psychologists use cognitive behavioural therapy, counseling, and a few other psychological interventions that can help. If your sleep problem is medical in nature, your doctor may prescribe drugs to help you.
Both sleep psychologists and medical doctors may ask you to change your behaviour or habits in ways that can help you sleep. Examples are keeping a consistent schedule, altering noise or light conditions, or even getting exercise.
Seeing a sleep psychologist
We sleep for a third of our lives. It is an integral part of every single day, and we all deserve to sleep well at night. In case you’ve been feeling like you need a little help getting a good night’s rest, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation with our sleep psychologists.
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