Take control of your sleep in 2019: VA shows the way


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The beginning of the year is the perfect time for a fresh start, and one of the best ways to begin is by getting a good night’s rest.

Difficulty sleeping is a serious issue. The lack of sleep and constant fatigue affects your everyday life and can contribute to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even suicidal thoughts.

Sleep disorders include a range of symptoms and types, such as narcolepsy, shift work disorder, and sleep apnea. Insomnia — difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep long enough to get sufficient rest — is one of the most common sleep challenges among Veterans. Research shows that over 90 percent of active duty personnel with PTSD have insomnia that is considered clinically significant, and about half of all Veterans who are enrolled in VA care have significant insomnia symptoms.

If you think you may have insomnia, consider using the Path to Better Sleep (PTBS) – a free, self-guided online course. Path to Better Sleep was developed by experts in web design and insomnia treatment, in addition to feedback from Veteran mentors. It is different from tips for better sleep that are commonly found online. It uses a specific technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) that is proven to be highly effective in treating insomnia.

PTBS can be completed — anonymously — in six weeks. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with treatment from a health care provider.

Features of the course include:

  • Accessibility on desktops as well as mobile devices
  • A Sleep Check-Up screening tool, when you’re not sure if you have insomnia or a different sleep disorder
  • A user-friendly sleep diary for tracking important sleep data, such as total sleep time and sleep efficiency, to help you understand personal sleep patterns
  • A personalized sleep plan, based on your diary entries, that you can adjust as needed
  • The ability to take the course at your own pace and revisit content

 

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PTBS Sleep Diary web page

After completing CBT-i, one participant noted, “I am more alert. I am not cranky.” Another said, “I rest better than I used to.” To learn more about the benefits to participants, check out this video, and join them on the path to better sleep today. To access the course, visit www.veterantraining.va.gov/insomnia.

PTBS was created by VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) in collaboration with the Durham VA Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT) and the VISN 6 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC).

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VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/