Sleep deprivation is a common complaint and presenting problem for many individuals seeking treatment. The newly created DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) Category of Sleep Wake Disorders includes 10 disorders or disorder groups such as insomnia, hypersomnia, narcolepsy and conditions related to medical causes or substance induced sleep disorders. Resulting daytime distress and impairment are core features shared by all of the sleep-wake disorders.
Careful attention must be paid during the history that the sleep symptoms are not part of a larger syndrome such as Major Depression or Generalized Anxiety Disorder Sleep changes frequently accompany many psychiatric syndromes and must be teased apart from the multiple possible underlying causes of the sleep disturbance, e.g., environmental, medical, toxic/substance, poor “sleep hygiene”, temperamental, etc.
There are multiple available treatments for sleep disorders, obviously dependent on making an accurate diagnosis. Some of these include behavioral interventions, changing one’s habits and correcting “sleep hygiene”, as well as psychotherapy to address underlying anxieties that may be contributing to disrupted sleep.
Moreover, there are a variety of medications known as hypnotics all which when used carefully and in limited ways may be helpful in inducing and maintaining sleep. These medications have a variety of different characteristics and side effects and are selected to meet the specific needs of the individual and tailored to his or her particular type of sleep symptoms.