Telemedicine To Treat Sleep And Mental Health

poor sleep and mental health

If you don’t get a good night’s sleep regularly, you are at risk from developing mental health issues. For instance, you are 50% more likely to get depression if you have insomnia. Having difficulty getting to sleep, having your sleep patterns regularly disrupted, or simply not getting enough sleep is also linked to depression and anxiety. These days telemedicine technology and the growing acceptance of telepsychiatry and online therapy is making it more convenient and less disruptive to get the sleep treatment you need.

Telemedicine sleep treatment, telepsychiatry & online therapy

For example, there are innovative telemedicine sleep treatment centers such as Blue Sleep which can diagnose and treat sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea, snoring, and insomnia from the comfort of your home. A number of psychiatric groups including Pacific Coast Psychiatric Associates and Baywell Psychiatry have added telepsychiatry to their services in order to better serve their clients. In fact, behavioral and mental health services are in the fastest growing areas of telehealth and telemedicine — including online therapy, online counseling, addiction treatment, etc. This means that patients only need access to the internet to address their sleep issues and the intertwining mental health effects at any time of day from their own home.

Insomnia and mental health

If you have insomnia, your chances of depression are doubled, however, insomnia can be treated. Researchers from the University of Oxford conducted a study of 3,700 students, looking to link sleep habits, to mental health problems. One group who had insomnia were treated with a course of CBT in order to improve their sleep and symptoms. Following the CBT they found that both their sleep and their mental health had improved. Issues with insomnia was reduced by 50%, paranoia by 25%, hallucinations by 30% and depression by 20%. The students were getting more sleep and their mental health improved. The study was published in Lancet Psychiatry. Weekly telepsychiatry sessions can deliver the help that patients need out of hours – particularly before they go to sleep. Privacy is protected, and there is a lack of social stigma that can sometimes be associated with mental health issues.

Depression and sleep

Depression and sleep are strongly intertwined. Depression can cause sleep problems, and in turn, not getting enough sleep, can cause depression. Sleep problems affect 18% of the population in America, and it puts them at risk. In turn, 80% of people being treated psychiatrically for mental health problems and depression, are presented symptoms of sleep difficulties. Research has shown that improving sleep quality helps alleviate the symptoms of depression, as well as other mental health issues such as anxiety and ADHD. Telemedicine means that patients can receive treatment without stigma, and as long as they can connect

Schizophrenia and sleep

In cases of more severe psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia, sleep disorders often present as a symptom. This can impair cognitive and social functioning, making it difficult to deal with daily challenges. Research has shown that psychotic symptoms are less likely to occur if the patient is getting enough sleep. Using CBT to improve the quality and quantity of sleep can help the patient so that they are able to get on with day-to-day life better. Telemedicine CBT sessions address the shortage of mental health services that are available, and there are no barriers to care, in terms of mobility and transportation options. For many psychiatric patients, they also find it easier to talk and open up in their own home, than at a clinic. You can get the treatment that you need quickly and easily.

How does sleep help mental health?

Neurochemistry and neuroimaging studies have suggested that by getting the right amount of sleep regularly, it helps us to be both emotionally and mentally more resilient. We are able to deal with the difficulties that life can throw at us better. However, if there are chronic sleep disruptions, then it can encourage negative thinking and make us emotionally vulnerable. The bottom line is that humans function best if they get 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep – even better if you get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even at the weekend.

Having good sleep habits are essential to our mental health. Without enough, we are at higher risk of developing anxiety, depression. In turn, those people with issues such as Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia found that their symptoms were reduced if they got enough sleep. It is absolutely essential to our wellbeing. Telemedicine has become a game changer in treating sleep and mental health issues, quickly, privately and in the comfort of the patient’s own home.

Post contributed by Jane Reynolds, a freelance writer who enjoys covering health-related issues

Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

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