Psychological Self-Help

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estimated that 25% of us have some kind of sleep problem; 50% will
have a problem sometime in our lives. While 10% regularly have
trouble sleeping, for those of us who only occasionally have insomnia it
usually goes away in a few nights or weeks (often when our life calms
down). Chronically waking up early is a classic symptom of depression.
Difficulty going to sleep is a common result of intense anxiety. Other
psychological disorders and medication for these conditions also
disrupt our sleep and change the nature of our dreams. Some sleep-
related breathing disorders are related to heart disease and high blood
pressure. Sleep apnea is reportedly connected to sexual dysfunctions.
Many of these complex connections are not understood. Regardless of
the exact nature or cause of the sleep disturbance, it is a very
distressful event that affects our days and our nights. Like chronic
pain, if it lasts night after night, it becomes a monstrous problem that
screams for a solution. 
Recent research indicates, contrary to the popular belief that losing
sleep doesn't matter, that, in fact, limited sleep (less than 5 or 6 hours
in 24) and interrupted sleep seriously affect our thinking, our mood,
our work, and our health (Dement, 1999; Coren, 1996). Adequate
sound regular sleep is important. We differ in how much we need,
some need 10 hours and a few others need only 5 or 6 hours. About
75% of us disregard this need and feel drowsy sometime during the
day. It may take some effort to change your too-little-sleep habits, but
after getting good, adequate, regular sleep for a few nights, you might
be really pleased with feeling refreshed, alert, clear-headed, and eager
for the day, 
As usual, whenever a large number of people suffer from a given
problem, there are many solutions offered for sale: drugs, herbs,
books, specialists, and now Web sites. Of course, in extreme cases,
medication can almost always help, but many of these drugs should be
used only on a short-term basis (there are some drugs that can be
used regularly, if necessary). In certain other cases, e.g. where
hypertension, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Mental Illness, obesity, and
other physical disorders are involved, your family doctor or a specialist
must be consulted. But where physical problems aren't the cause, it
would probably be best to adjust the body and mind so that healthy
sleep comes naturally. There are a host of treatments by professionals
and many self-help procedures. Why so many treatments? Because
there are so many kinds of sleep problems and because there are so
many different kinds of practitioners offering services to people with
sleep problems. After all, not being able to sleep well has always been
a problem and a mystery for humans. Everyone has solutions. 
Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral treatments (Morin &
Kwentus, 1988) and various self-help methods are quite helpful. 
Healthy sleep habits can be summarized as follows:
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