Sleep is a major issue for many adults and children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Recent studies suggest that up to 80% of young people with ASD also have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep at night. The incidence rate of sleep problems and disorders is also high among adults with ASD, particularly those who are classified as ‘low-functioning’. Lack of sleep can exacerbate some of the behavioral characteristics of ASD, such as hyperactivity, aggression, and lack of concentration. As a result, people with ASD who have a hard time sleeping may struggle at work or in their classroom.
We’ll look at some of the most common sleep issues among adults and children with ASD, as well as some suitable treatment options and tips for managing ASD and sleep on a regular basis. First, let’s look at how the medical and psychiatric communities currently define ASD.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is considered the most authoritative guide for evaluating and diagnosing mental health disorders in the United States. According to the latest definition (last revised in 2013), the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are as follows:
The latest DSM revisions also note three distinct ‘severity levels’ that can be used to assess how much support (if any) a person with ASD requires on a regular basis.
Prior to 2013, ASD was broken down into different autism subtypes based on severity of symptoms. These subtypes were eliminated and omitted from the DSM-5, and their diagnoses have all been absorbed into the ‘ASD’ definition. Although these subtypes are no longer officially diagnosed, they are still widely discussed within the medical and psychiatric communities. Additionally, some are still included on other authoritative lists, such as the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) database maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO). The four most common subdivisions of ASD (as previously defined by the DSM) are:
The root cause of ASD remains unknown, though most researchers today believe that both genetic and environmental factors play a major role. Recent studies have pinpointed some genes that are prevalent in people with the disorder, and brain-imaging tests indicate that the brains of people with ASD develop differently than the brains of other individuals. The general consensus is that ASD originates from defects in the brain that affect how the brain grows and communicates with other areas of the body. Studies have yet to identify any specific environmental factors that directly cause or influence the development of ASD. However, the scientific community has debunked and rejectedthe longstanding belief among parents that child vaccinations lead to a higher incidence rate of ASD in developing children.
Diagnosing ASD in Children
Most children with ASD begin to display symptoms by age three, so early detection and evaluation is critical. The ASD diagnosis process for children is divided into two stages: developmental screening and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.
Parents are urged to begin developmental screening at a young age to evaluate their children for ASD and other intellectual disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends ASD screenings for all children at the ages of nine, 18, and 24-30 months, adding that a reliable ASD diagnosis can usually be made by age two. Additional testing may be required for children who are considered high-risk for ASD, including those with family members who have already been diagnosed or those who have displayed ASD-related behaviors.
During the developmental screening stage, doctors watch for signs and symptoms of ASD diagnostic criteria. These include deficits in communication and social interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. Speech and language skills are often delayed in children with ASD; they typically will not respond to their own name after 12 months. Other ‘red flags’ include refusal to acknowledge or point at moving objects after 14 months, showing little interest in playing ‘pretend’ games after 18 months, and sustained repetition of words and phrases, as well as physical signs like avoiding eye contact, constantly rocking back and forth, compulsory hand waving, and/or exhibiting ‘unusual’ reactions to sensory stimuli. Additionally, children with ASD often display at least one of the following traits or behaviors:
According to the CDC, the most commonly used developmental screening tools include the following:
If developmental screening yields results that are consistent with ASD symptoms, then a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation may be recommended. Family participation during this second phase is vital. Parents can describe symptoms and behaviors to the evaluation provider, who can then take these statements into account when conducting the diagnosis. The presence of at least one parent can ease the evaluation process for the child, as well.
In order to perform an accurate evaluation of ASD in children, doctors rely on a set of diagnostic tools. The CDC notes that a comprehensive ASD evaluation should include at least two diagnostic tools; the following four diagnostic tools are most widely used:
Once the comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is complete, parents can discuss the outcome with their physician and — if the child receives an ASD diagnosis — explore possible treatment options.
Considerations for Diagnosing ASD in AdultsASD is a lifelong condition. People with ASD typically begin to show symptoms of the disorder during their early childhood. In some cases, however, these symptoms will not become apparent until the individual has reached adulthood.
Due to the wide range of symptoms and severity levels, diagnosing ASD in adults can be a tricky process — particularly for those who have not received an ASD diagnosis as children. According to neurologist David Beversdorf of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, an adult seeking an ASD evaluation should first discuss the matter with his or her physician. During this consultation, the patient should explain why they are seeking an ASD diagnosis. These reasons may include changes in the way he or she behaves or interacts with others, as well as heightened sensitivity to sensory factors, acquired repetitive behaviors, or newly restricted interests.
Most licensed physicians are not trained to diagnose ASD themselves, but they will be able to steer the patient in the right direction — and, in some cases, refer them to a specialist with a background in ASD diagnosis. Due to a widespread scarcity of clinicians that specialize in ASD, Dr. Beversdorf suggests meeting with a medical professional that evaluates and treats young people for the disorders. These include developmental pediatricians, child psychiatrists, and pediatric neurologists.
One major issue for diagnosing adults with ASD has been a lack of reputable screening and diagnostic evaluation tools. With the exception of the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale — which evaluates subjects up to 22 years of age — these tools are designed for child subjects, not adults, who tend to be less honest and more secretive when undergoing these tests. Deceased parents are another obstacle for diagnosing adults, since mothers and fathers provide key information to clinicians during the early screening and evaluation stages of child ASD testing.
The Adult Repetitive Behaviours Questionnaire-2 (RBQ-2A) appears to be a step in the right direction. Introduced by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in 2015, the ADBQ-2A is designed to evaluate adults based on repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Because the questionnaire excludes social communication and interaction, it should not be seen as a definitive evaluation tool for ASD in adults. However, RBQ-2A can be used to help adults decide whether their behaviors and interests are indicative of a disorder that may necessitate formal treatment.
How Does ASD Affect Sleep?
A 2009 study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews noted parents report sleep problems for children with ASD at a rate of 50% to 80%; by comparison, this rate fell between 9% and 50% for children that had not been diagnosed with ASD. The rate for children with ASD was also higher than the rate for children with non-ASD developmental disabilities.
In a recent study titled ‘Sleep Problems and Autism’, UK-based advocacy group Research Autism noted that the following sleep issues are common among children and adults with ASD.
People with ASD often struggle with daily pressures and interactions more than individuals who do not live with the disorder. Lack of sleep can greatly exacerbate the feelings of distress and anxiety that they experience on a frequent basis. As a result, may people with ASD who have trouble sleeping may struggle greatly with employment, education, and social interaction — all of which can impact their outlook on life.
Persistent sleep problems in people with ASD may indicate a sleep disorder. Insomnia is the most commonly reported sleep disorder among adults and children with ASD. Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling and/or remaining asleep on a nightly or semi-nightly basis for a period of more than one month. A study published in Sleep found that 66% of children with ASD reported insomnia symptoms. A similar study from 2003 found that 75% to 90% of adults then-diagnosed with Asperger syndrome reported insomnia symptoms in questionnaires or sleep diaries.
In addition, parasomnias such as frequent nightmares, night terrors, and enuresis (bedwetting) have been widely reported among children with ASD, particularly those once diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. The child’s inability to express their fears and discomforts upon waking — often due to ASD — can complicate the way parasomnias are addressed and treated. Additionally, children with ASD often wake up in the middle of the night and engage in ‘time-inappropriate’ activities like playing with toys or reading aloud.
Sleep researchers are currently studying the relationships between other sleep disorders and ASD. For example, Dr. Steven Park recently noted a possible connection between ASD and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition characterized by temporary loss of breath during sleep resulting from blockage in the primary airway that restricts breathing. Dr. Park’s theory suggests that the intracranial hypertension found in many babies and infants with ASD may also cause the child’s jaw to take on an irregular shape, which can lead to sleep-disordered breathing as well. Other studies have explored the link between ASD and disorders like narcolepsy and REM Behavior Disorder. However, insomnia and parasomnias remain the most common sleep disorders among adults and children with ASD.
Next let’s look at treatment options and considerations for adults and children with ASD who are experiencing a sleep disorder.
Sleep Therapy Options
If the preliminary assessment indicates the presence of a sleep disorder in a child with ASD, then treatment will likely be the next step. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven fairly effective in alleviating sleep disorder symptoms for young people with ASD. CBT is designed to improve sleep hygiene in patients by educating them about the science sleep and helping them find ways to improve their nightly habits. A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Neuroscience noted that children with ASD are often set in their routines, so establishing a consistent bedtime schedule can be quite beneficial to them. A healthy bedtime schedule might consist of the following:
Additional behavioral interventions may help children with ASD improve their difficulties with sleep. According to a ‘Sleep Tool Kit‘ published by the Autism Treatment Network, these interventions include the following:
In addition to CBT, light therapy (also known as phototherapy) may also help children with ASD sleep better. This form of therapy is usually conducted using a light-transmitting box kept near the child’s bed. By exposing the child to bright light early in the morning, this therapy can help boost melatonin production and make children feel more alert throughout the day.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT®) might seem to be an intense modality; however, it is quite worth it for clients who struggle in multiple domains and cannot "seem to catch a break". It is an evidence-based treatment for persons struggling with emotion regulation issues (e.g., rapid mood changes, intense and debilitating emotions, etc.). It was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan and colleagues at the University of Washington (The Linehan Institute and Behavioral Tech). Since its creation in the early 1990’s, DBT® has been shown to be effective for a broad range of issues from severe suicidal thoughts to problems in maintaining relationships. It is a highly effective and comprehensive treatment modality that requires intensive training (and retraining!). Our trainers at Compass Point work hard to attend trainings across the country and bring the knowledge back to our trainings here at Compass Point!
We strive to write our trainings as both stand-alone and comprehensive building blocks. By that, we mean that any therapist would benefit from attending one of the series. The most frequently asked questions we get are:
1. If I attend these trainings, do I have to be a DBT therapist?
The answer here is NO. The behavioral strategies, core therapeutic skills, suicide risk assessment protocol and mindfulness based ideals will help ANY therapist using ANY modality! Come on in and check one out, we try to provide an adequate description on our training center page. I cannot promise that you won't want to become a DBT therapist though!
2. Will attending this training series result in me being certified?
There is no training anywhere (not even Behavioral Tech), that results in DBT certification; however, receiving good quality, comprehensive training is a required step in the certification process. I have personally attended more than 100 hours of Behavioral Tech training in recent years, a good percentage with Marsha Linehan herself as the trainer and I assure you that ours are of an upstanding quality.
click on any of the below pages to learn more about the training as well as to add to your cart to register and reserve your seat.
These trainings can be taken individually, out of order or as a five day training series.
The Training Center at Compass Point believes in meeting the needs of our clients and our community. Our training program seeks to offer evidence-based and cutting edge topics for providers, so that they can return to their clients with fresh and applicable information. If you have any questions about our trainings or have feedback on future trainings you would like to see offered please reach out to us at email@example.com
We’ve all seen it in the movies: a couple is overcome with passion, dives into one another’s arms, and engages in the best sex of their lives with both people deeply satisfied by the experience. Sometimes we even hear from our friends how amazing sex is. So why is that for some people (especially women), sex doesn’t always seem all that it’s cracked up to be? In fact, it actually hurts.
Let me start by saying that sex should never be painful (unless you consensually desire it to be). If it’s painful and you continue with it anyway, you are likely causing damage to the delicate tissues of your vaginal walls. Therefore, it is important to understand the root of the pain and eliminate it before continuing to engage in any sort of penetrative act. There are several different reasons that pain may be occurring, which I’ll address.
One reason that sex may be painful is because you’re simply not lubricated enough (naturally or otherwise). Sometimes when the vagina is too dry, the friction between the vagina and the penis, fingers, vibrator, etc. can create pain. One solution, if your body isn’t naturally wet enough in the moment, is to grab some lube and apply liberally. This should help ease the pain. For some women, especially those who are post-menopause, lubrication alone isn’t enough. There can be some hormonal shifts that occur (which could also be caused by birth control) that create dryness that lube alone cannot fix. If this is the case, consult your gynecologist and he/she can present you with different options that can address this.
Another reason that sex can be painful is due to a condition called dyspareunia, which can sometimes be an umbrella term for other issues such as vaginismus. When a woman has dyspareunia, the walls of the vagina tighten up or spasm and may even completely close the opening so that penetration is very difficult if not impossible and is incredibly painful (sometimes to the point that even tampon insertion is painful). This can be caused by a variety of issues ranging from sexual trauma, a sports injury, a urinary tract infection, etc. There is absolutely treatment for this; however, it does range widely, based on the origin of the injury. Therefore, it would be pertinent to consult a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment. Some options might include therapy to process through the sexual trauma and learn about relaxation techniques, physical therapy to strengthen your pelvic floor, the use of dilators to relax the muscles of the vagina, and more.
Speaking of physical therapy, another reason sex may be painful is because the muscles of the pelvic floor are weak. The pelvic floor plays a major role in sexual pleasure and by toning and strengthening those muscles, sex can not only begin to feel good, but it can also increase the pleasure even more than normal. There are different ways to strengthen the pelvic floor, again, based on the severity of the problem, which can range from yoga, specific pelvic floor exercises prescribed by a physical therapist, kegel exercises, and more.
Even positioning at times can create pain. For some women, if the penis, fingers, vibrators, etc. are touching the cervix, it can really hurt! Sometimes altering the position or the depth can help alleviate pain as well.
All in all, sex should never be painful. If it is, consult your gynecologist to try to get to the root of the problem so that you can resolve it! If left untreated, the problem can exacerbate and be even more difficult to treat. Instead, once you notice the pain, talk to your partner about alternatives that aren’t painful (engage in sex that is non-penetrative to the vagina) so that you can continue to engage in intimate connection while you work on healing your body. You can also consult a sex coach or therapist if you feel that the issue is more mental than it is physical (though they’ll likely suggest you visit a gynecologist to rule out the potential for any medical underlying causes). Remember, trust yourself and your body. It’ll tell you when something is off!
If you would like a space to be open and vulnerable and would like to schedule an appointment with Julie, please call our office at 513-939-0300
Lemon Coconut Doughnuts
Gluten free and potentially vegan, depending on the ingredients you choose, this recipe is as close to healthy as you can get for a sweet treat. Whether you spell it doughnut or donut, the Lemon-coconut flavor of this recipe is sure to please even the most picky doughnut lover. And speaking of flavor, did you know that doTERRA Lemon oil comes all the way from Sicily, Italy? The Mediterranean climate is perfect for creating the best lemons in the world. Our growers there have worked in their orchards for generations, and doTERRA has made it possible for them to continue their family traditions in spite of hard times. Somehow, that fact makes Lemon oil all the sweeter. Buon appetito!
1 ½ cups almond flour, or any gluten free flour
½ cup coconut sugar, or brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, or 1 tablespoon flaxseed with ½ tablespoon water
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup coconut yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
2–3 drops Lemon oil
1 package white chocolate
¼ teaspoon coconut oil
How to Choose Pure Essential Oils
When it comes to buying essential oils, there is a lot to consider—price, ease of use, your personal preferences and needs, etc. However, when it comes to deciding what type of essential oils to buy, one of the most important things to consider is purity. Pure essential oils will generally be safer and more effective, which means that your money will be well spent.
Take a look at some common questions about essential oil purity, and learn how to ensure that you are using pure essential oils at home with your family.
Aren’t all essential oils the same?
If you’ve never used essential oils, you might be wondering, “Aren’t all essential oils created equal if they're from the same plants?” The honest answer, unfortunately, is no. The quality and efficacy of an essential oil will depend heavily on the production process and dozens of little details throughout an oil’s delicate journey from plant to bottle. Even seemingly tiny factors (like the type of soil used to grow the plants or the time of day that the plants are harvested) can drastically impact the quality of an essential oil because all of these elements impact the oil’s chemistry.
Most essential oil producers will have their own methods and processes for producing essential oils, but the important thing to remember is that cutting corners during any phase of the oil production will always result in a lower quality oil. Not all essential oil producers take the same time and care necessary to produce high-quality essential oils, but the difference is clear from both the resulting aroma and the efficacy of the oil when you use it.
Why is it important to use pure essential oils?
Some might wonder, “Does it really matter if I use pure essential oils or not?” It turns out, when it comes to using essential oils, purity is possibly the most important attribute. When an essential oil isn’t pure, it has the potential to expose the body to germs, adulterants, or other undesirable things like heavy metals. If an essential oil contains contaminants, it can lead to unwanted effects like irritation and even sickness.
Along with shielding the body from adverse effects, using pure essential oils also allows you to yield the maximum benefit that the oil has to offer. If an essential oil is pure and free from contaminants, it will be safe to use (when the appropriate application methods are observed), and will provide the user with the desired benefits. Not only do pure essential oils give you peace of mind that your body will be protected from unwanted additives, but you will also find the oils to be more effective and useful.
How do I know if an essential oil is pure?
Once you’ve decided that you only want to use pure essential oils, how do you know if the oils you intend to use are in fact pure? Unfortunately, there is not an accepted standard or regulatory body that ensures essential oil quality, so essential oil companies must regulate themselves when it comes to producing pure, safe oils. As mentioned, each essential oil company will have their own processes for producing essential oils and ensuring safety, so it is up to the company to make sure that the proper measures are taken to create pure essential oils. While skipping important quality control steps during the production process might save money or time, it will result in impure and lower quality oils in the end.
In order to decide whether or not the essential oils you are using are pure, you will need to do a little research about the essential oil company you are buying from. Responsible essential oil companies will provide information about their testing measures and any processes that they use to protect the potency and purity of an essential oil before it is approved for final consumer use.
For example, doTERRA uses something called the CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® testing process to ensure that each doTERRA essential oil is free from contaminants and safe for use. The CPTG® testing process includes several rounds of testing to make sure that no undesirable elements can be found in the essential oils, and that they are safe to be packaged and sold for customer use. The main goal of the CPTG testing process is to verify the potency and ensure the purity of each essential oil that doTERRA produces.
We also know that transparency is important, especially when it comes to testing for purity. To see the specific GC/MS test results of any doTERRA single oil bottled after 2016, please visit our Source to You website. There you will be able to input your Quality ID found on the bottom of the bottle to get a PDF of the test results.
Before you purchase and use an essential oil, do some of your own research to see what kind of testing methods the company uses to ensure purity. By educating yourself, you’ll be able to protect your family by only using potent, effective, and pure essential oils.
To learn more about the doTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade testing process, check out some of these articles:
Pure doTERRA Essential Oils through CPTG Quality Testing
CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Testing Methods Q&A
The CPTG Difference
Leave with a gender-neutral lava rock bracelet that you create while learning about essential oils!
What is sex therapy?
A variety of ideas can come to mind when someone first hears the words, “sex therapy.”
Most people tend to either tighten up and feel uncomfortable or blossom with curiosity about the “freaky/kinky/weird” clients that I might see. And while I fully understand both responses and they are completely normal, it seems that once people truly understand what sex therapy is, they tend to soften and gain a different perspective on the overall experience.
The first thing I tell most of my clients to not only lighten the mood, but also to debunk one of the bigger myths about sex therapy is that everyone is going to keep their clothes on and
we’ll be staying on our respective sides of the room. Sex therapy is not sex surrogacy (which is
legal only in certain states in the U.S.). Instead, sex therapy is the opportunity to verbally process with a specialist the sexual difficulties you (and potentially your partner) are experiencing. It’s the opportunity to take a more in-depth approach to exploring the beliefs that culture, family, friends, church, schools, etc. have told you about sex, relationships, and intimacy, and determine how those beliefs have influenced your life to lead you where you are today (which is my therapy office). It’s an opportunity to grieve the way you may feel that your body has betrayed you (whether it’s because you feel like a freak for desiring a certain person/act, etc., because your body isn’t responding the way you’d like for it to (or because it’s responding in ways you don’t want it to), because hormones and medicine have changed your desire or response, and more. It’s a space to ask all the questions you were afraid to ask because it’s been taboo all of your life to talk about sex. It’s a space to be open and vulnerable about a topic that causes a lot of doubt, fear, discomfort, blissful joy, curiosity, tantalizing excitement, and more.
So, while some people might believe that sex therapy is only for those who are into kinky
sex or have terrible sex life, it can actually be for a wide variety of topics. I see couples and
individuals for concerns such as painful sex, low libido, sexual trauma, erectile dysfunction,
vaginismus, compulsive sexual behaviors, infidelity, questioning identity, education about sex in
general, feeling something is wrong with them because they want sex too much or too little or
feel they have strange desires/fantasies, and more.
If you come in for any of these issues (or something not listed), what can you expect from
a typical session? You can expect that for the initial session, I will take some time to get to know
who you are and what you’re coming into therapy for. We’ll just get to know one another and
determine if we are a good fit (can I help you with what you’re bringing in). You can then expect
that for the second session, we’ll review an assessment that you complete, outlining your sexual history, so we can get a full picture of how your past experiences and the beliefs you’ve been given about sex have influenced your life such that you’re now seeking help. For our third
session, we will carve out goals so that we’re on the same page regarding the work you want to do and what you’d like to accomplish in our time together. After that, you can expect that I will check in on your goals from the past week. We’ll process whatever new developments have
taken place (whether we’re celebrating a win or collaborating on how to adjust our work when
something didn’t quite pan out the way we expected it to) and begin to implement different
interventions that, based on my education and the research provided in the field, seem to be the
best fit for you. Once we feel that you have met your goals and you have no further concerns,
you are on your merry way and may just come in every once and a while for maintenance.
As you can see, sex therapy isn’t cringe worthy or altogether full of wild stories. It’s more about tapping into a part of you or your relationship that our society has difficulty processing together. It’s an opportunity to have a safe space to be fully who you are without judgement, so that you can have the most fulfilling sex and intimacy in your life that you desire.
If you would like a space to be open and vulnerable and would like to schedule an appointment with Julie, please call our office at 513-939-0300
I am very excited that Compass Point is offering groups that will be using mindfulness to reduce stress and improve overall physical and mental health.
Mindfulness is a bit of buzzword at the moment. It may have popped up on your social media or at your job. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the art of being fully present, fully aware, and fully engaged in this moment without judgment. Mindfulness allows you to reduce the stress hormone cortisol which allows your body to function in a healthier way.
So why would you want to learn how to do that? Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years but it is only in the last 60 years that scientists have really studied it in depth. What they discovered was astonishing and will be taught in the class. In short mindfulness has been researched and found to be helpful with improving:
Please note that Mindfulness does not replace your current medical and mental health treatment but rather enhances it. It gives you the tools to get the most out of your treatment.
We tend to look at the mind and body as separate but Mindfulness is a holistic practice that embraces the interconnected whole. If you struggle with any of the above issues, I expect you have noticed how when you are stressed your health is more difficult to manage and vice versa. If you want to find ways to better manage this cycle this group could be for you.
The group will meet weekly for 9 weeks and include a time of teaching and a time of practicing techniques. There is daily homework that is essential to getting the most out of the group.
Interested in signing up? Please give the front office a call at 513-939-0300 to ask about the next available start date.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is a reaction to stress. Its keymarkers are feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes such as elevated blood pressure.
Just like physical pain, in and of itself anxiety is not a bad thing: it signals that something is wrong. Temporary anxiety is normal and can count as healthy, because it draws our attention to causes of stress that might need correcting. But anxiety disorders–the excessive and chronic reactions to stress–are mental illnesses. Anxiety disorders are, in other words, worry that sticks way past its usefulness to us; it does not go away and often gets worse with time. According to National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders–from post-traumatic stress disorder, through obsessive compulsive disorder, to a variety of phobias–are the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans. They affect 40 million adults over 18 in the United States, or 18 percent of the population. Many anxiety disorders negatively affect sleep–and vice versa. Doctors call them comorbid: they go hand-in-hand. In other words, anxiety and sleep are connected via a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Feeling rested has been proved to combat anxiety and feeling less anxious leads to sounder sleep. The converse is also true: insomnia feeds anxiety and anxiety keeps us up at night. According to The Cleveland Clinic, two-thirdsof patients referred to sleep disorders centers have a psychiatric disorder. “Anxiety is an emotion that actually wakes us up,” Dr. Steve Orma, author of Stop Worrying and Go to Sleep: How to Put Insomnia to Bed for Good,told The Huffington Post. “There are all kinds of physical changes happening that ramp you up, which is the exact opposite state of what you need to be in when you’re trying to fall asleep.”
This guide gets at the link between anxiety and sleep and covers several anxiety disorders that interfere with sleep and which can be alleviated with sleep: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); social anxiety; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); phobias; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and panic disorder. It offers solutions to the sleep deprived anxiety sufferers, from treatment options, through online forums, tips regarding healthy sleep hygiene and banishing anxious thoughts, to medical associations that can help.
Anyone who lost a night to insomnia on account of troubling thoughts has been where many chronic anxiety sufferers find themselves all too frequently. According to UC Berkeley researchers, lack of sleep plays a role in ramping up brain regions that trigger excessive worry. Additionally, those who tend to worry too much are more vulnerable to sleep disorders. “These findings help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation,” said Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study. Worry about lack of sleep becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy at times. Anxiety causes sleep loss, which in turn can provoke further anxiety in sufferers. The mechanism behind this phenomenon has to do with what researchers call anticipatory anxiety. People prone to sleep deprivation worry that they might not be able to sleep, perhaps based on past experience. That worry fires up the brain’s amygdala and insular cortex, mimicking the neural activity seen in anxiety disorders. And now, indeed, because of the anticipatory anxiety, sleep becomes elusive. Researchers at University of California Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratoryfound that when deprived of sleep, the brain reverts back to more primitive patterns of activity. What this means is that subjects kept awake were less likely to put emotionally-charged information in context. The good news is found in the reverse. Doing the opposite–finding ways to get better sleep–presents us with a tried-and-true solution to alleviate anxiety. “By restoring good quality sleep in people suffering from anxiety, we may be able to help ameliorate their excessive worry and disabling fearful expectations,” says Dr. Allison Harvey, one of the authors of the study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
This article on the correlation between sleep and anxiety was shared with us from Tuck.
Leave with a gender-neutral lava rock bracelet that you create while learning about essential oils!
REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. CALL 513-939-0300 TO SIGN UP.
This class is open to CPCS clients, therapists and the public.
You’re here because you are curious about EMDR therapy and you want to know what it’s all about. As a therapist, I’ve learned many types of therapy that have positively changed the way I approach my practice, EMDR incorporates all that and so much more. For many years, I heard from respected clinicians about the incredible changes they have seen in their clients engaged in EMDR therapy. The therapy has gained recent momentum in the mental health world, and for good reason. EMDR is empirically validated as effective for helping people deal with trauma. It has also been shown effective with many other disruptive symptoms such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and addiction recovery. Think of your painful memories, thoughts, images, like a tangled ball of yarn, often complicated to talk through especially when the strings are intertwined. EMDR therapy can help to untangle the yarn and allow you to process one string at a time, in a safe contained way. EMDR therapy can accelerate the therapeutic process by resolving painful past traumas allowing you to live more fully in the present. And who doesn’t want to live in the present?
Why am I telling you about EMDR?
I was trained by Dr. Stephen Dansiger, a certified EMDR therapist from the Institute of Creative Mindfulness. I experienced a life changing shift when he himself demonstrated the 8 phases of treatment on me. Keep reading and I will tell you more about these 8 phases later. During my experience I felt a relief, something years of talk therapy had not been able to process for a long time. As a clinician, I feel passionate about giving as many people the opportunity to learn about and benefit from this treatment as possible.
But what is EMDR therapy?
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Don’t worry, it is way less complicated than it sounds. It is a non-drug, non-hypnosis, psychotherapy that combines many positive elements of numerous therapies along with left/right brain stimulation (known as bilateral stimulation), developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the 1980’s. EMDR therapy involves a trained therapist waving their fingers from left to right (some therapists use a light bar to achieve this part of the therapy), in a windshield wiper motion, which will trigger the brain to bring up the painful memories in an effort to process them and speed up the healing process. All of this is done in a safe environment with you and your therapist present. You are not alone in the processing of your memories. The therapist will also work to reprocess negative beliefs, images, and feelings and replace them with more positive ones. The outcome is the feeling of resolution and a more peaceful state overall. EMDR therapy has successfully treated millions of people of all ages, has gained notability with veterans of war as a primary treatment modality for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, but also many types of other traumatic stress and negative symptoms that come along with different experiences.
You’re probably wondering how simple “finger wipers” do all that? Interestingly enough the “finger waving” is key to the therapy. It engages something called bilateral stimulation (right to left eye movement), which repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain. This releases emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system. When this happens it assists the neurophysiological system, the basis of the mind-body connection, to free itself of blockages and begin to heal. In a basic sense, when a person experiences an adverse event, or trauma, the brain cannot process the event as it does normally. The brain instead takes this event and stores it, sort of like “I’ll get to this later”. Unfortunately, the “I’ll get to this later” never quite happens and essentially these adverse feelings, memories, and thoughts become “stuck” in an isolated memory network. They can easily become re-triggered by sound, smell, feelings, and environments that were activated during the traumatic event. EMDR therapy is able to guide the person in a safe, contained environment to “unstick” the memories, reprocess them, and replace them with more positive images. Once this happens,the person can begin to move forward with healing.
Who is the best candidate for EMDR?
EMDR therapy is for children, adolescents, and adults. If you or a loved one has ever experienced panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, pain disorders, anxiety, performance anxiety, depression, addictions, phobias, sexual and/or physical abuse, body dysmorphic disorder, and personality disorders.
**It is important to note that a consultation with a EMDR trained therapist is the best way to determine if EMDR is right for you.
EMDR therapy has been designated by the American Psychiatric Association, U.S. Department of Defense, and the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, as a highly effective and empirically supported treatment modality for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What happens in EMDR Therapy sessions?
EMDR therapy has a standardized set of protocols that a therapist will follow. There are 8 phases to the treatment, that are moved through at a varying pace depending on your readiness for the next stage. An EMDR therapist is trained to know appropriate pacing but you can determine whether to continue or stop at anytime. The therapist is there as a guide to help you get the most out of the experience, and at times may gently aide in pushing you through painful moments.
Why bring up painful memories? Isn’t it best to forget them and move on?
By avoiding the painful memory you might continue to experience the lasting effects of the event, through nightmares, stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. By holding onto these memories you stop yourself from moving on. The problem with avoidance, or ignoring these memories, is that it is a temporary relief. For a brief moment it allows you to feel better and put aside the pain, but it doesn’t remove it, and worse, it allows it to keep its power over you and your joy. Often, this painful memory rears its ugly head at times when we are not prepared and leaves us crippled by its effects. EMDR therapy is not just bringing up painful memories, its moving through them in a safe, contained way. It alleviates suffering, and replaces it with positivity.
What happens when I’m done with all 8 phases?
After the 8 phases you will likely continue to process the material for days, weeks, or perhaps even months. You might have new insights, vivid dreams, feel angry or numb with no real answer why. This is because your are finally processing the unpleasant memories you were holding onto for so long. Your therapist will guide you through this process and advise best practices for moving forward. Some people feel a slight buzzing all over their body, similar to the feeling of when they stand up too fast. Don’t worry, this will soon fade. Your right and left hemisphere are stimulated by the finger waving motion and it is only natural that you will feel something afterwards. Often times, after a person has processed one of their target issues they will notice that some of the other target issues, are no longer are troubling them. This is because our memory networks are linked in ways we aren't consciously aware of. Its normal to cry, feel tired, need time to be alone, or feel a little “off” because your body is starting the healing process. Allow it to heal.
So this all sounds like something I might want to try. What do I do now?
I would be more than happy to help you in your journey to healing! You can call our main office at 513.939.0300 and ask the office staff to schedule an appointment with Jennifer Burns for an EMDR session. I am currently taking new clients and would love to meet you.
Where can I find more information on EMDR?
EMDR International Association
The Institute for Creative Mindfulness
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: National Center for PTSD