BY JULE BANVILLE
“People often think of sleep in compensatory terms, like a credit
card,” Barber says. “But they forget the hidden interest rates.”
As a psychology graduate student, you probably know that sleep is important. But did you know that skimping on your
zzz’s can trigger major depression (Journal of Affective Disorders,
2011)? Bouts of insomnia may even predict suicide (Combat and
Operational Stress Research Quarterly, 2012) and serve as a more
serious harbinger of self-harm than depression or hopelessness
(Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012).
Sleep interventions When psychologists treat patients for sleep disorders, they often treat them separate from other problems, says Allison Harvey, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkeley. That’s a mistake, she says. According to a study led by Harvey and published in 2008 in Current Directions in Psychological Science, if you combine insomnia interventions with treatments for mental health problems, the effectiveness of both increases. “Regardless of the diagnosis, if we treat insomnia directly, that results in improvement across the board,” says TEPP study author John T. Peachey, a clinical psychology student at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco. Peachey’s experience in teaching an introductory sleep course shows adding insomnia treatments to your therapy toolbox doesn’t require intensive training. Therapists in training can start by adding these three questions to their intake evaluations, he says: • Are you dissatisfied with your sleep? • Are you excessively sleepy during the day? • Do others complain about your snoring, tossing and turning, or other sleep behaviors? If a client answers yes to any of those questions, “then you should do a much more detailed sleep assessment,” says Peachey. He recommends starting with a two-week sleep diary. “This can often be a helpful intervention in and of itself because people gain insight into how certain behaviors are interfering with their circadian rhythms and drive to sleep,” he says.