Restful Sleep So Far Away: ‘Do You Think I Should See A Psychologist?’
By Sonali Gupta
Restful Sleep So Far Away: I have been having difficulty with restful sleep; I sleep for six hours but don’t feel rested enough. My work is exhausting and I have also been dealing with a personal crisis. Do you think I should see a psychiatrist or a psychologist?
Sonali: Lack of restful sleep can be extremely frustrating and can compound any anxiety we already feel. It seems you already have a good sense for what could be playing havoc with your sleep hygiene. But it would be a good idea to seek help from a psychologist, who can rule out any personal behaviours (ruminating thoughts, bedtime procrastination, overuse of gadgets) coming in the way of sleep.
If there aren’t, a therapist can still be helpful. He or she can help you identify and manage the concerns keeping you awake by teaching you techniques that reduce stress and make relaxation easier and more complete. Finally, if these techniques aren’t working, a therapist would be able to ascertain if you need medication or further therapy.
Take heart: That you are able to hold onto a job and get six hours of sleep are positive signs.
Fatigued With Care: A friend of mine is going through an emotional crisis and, in the last six months, I have supported him completely. However, I now find myself getting irritated and impatient. I also feel that I’m tired of handling the situation.
Sonali: You are aware about your own irritability and anxiety, which is a good sign. It says a lot about your earnest need to be helpful.
Playing dual roles of a friend and a counsellor can get tricky. It is normal for caregivers to feel compassion fatigue when stress continues for a prolonged period of time. I encourage you to engage in self-care going forward; we need to take care of ourselves first, before we can nurture or support others. It may also help if you can seek the support of a friend or a family member, who can in turn listen to and support you.
Since you have not mentioned the nature of your friend’s concern, I’m not sure about the intensity of his problems. Learning to trust his ability to heal would also help you navigate the situation. But with issues that run deep and are complicated, it may help both of you to each seek professional assistance.
Sonali Gupta draws on more than 10 years of experience as a clinical psychologist to give advice to readers with questions about parenting, family dynamics, relationships, mental health, and more. She will be taking a brief hiatus after this week’s column.