FORT KNOX, Ky. – Struggling to get a good night’s sleep can have far reaching effects.
Members of the Fort Knox community experiencing trouble sleeping now have a new place to turn to for help.
“Sleep affects every aspect of health,” said internal behavioral health consultant Margaret Baker. “If you’re not getting your basic core functions in – sleeping well, eating well, etc. – all of the other things that could be going wrong start to get worse.”
As a licensed clinical social worker with a specialization in military mental health, Baker was recently brought on at the Ireland Primary Care Clinic. She said she has spent years learning about factors that can inhibit healthy sleep and how to tailor individual treatments.
“Because I have a background in understanding how human brains work,” said Baker, “I’m better able to help you to anticipate how you’re going to react to things and give you a good idea based in the science of what’s going to work best.”
During a recent survey of the Fort Knox community, more than half of those polled reported a sleep-related issue in some form. In addition to physiological sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea, Baker said she most often sees some other common problems.
“One is where the lifestyle a person is living isn’t conducive to good sleep,” said Baker; “where they’re under a lot of stress, and it’s causing them to wake up throughout the night or not be able to fall asleep.”
In addition to tension building up throughout the day, Baker said many of her patients overburden their minds just as they should be settling down for the night.
“We have people checking their phones in bed, doing work right up until going to bed, or worrying about family issues at a time when there’s nothing they can really do about them,” said Baker. “If your brain is too active, you won’t make it into sleep.”
Baker explained these are exactly the types of issues she’s trained to help with. She first focuses on discovering what is causing the sleep disruption, and then comes up with a plan.
“My appointments are very individualized,” said Baker. “My focus is helping to talk through barriers and giving support to shift a behavior that’s interfering with getting good sleep – how that can change as opposed to just, ‘You need to change because sleep science says so.’”
Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just important so an individual feels rested, according to Baker; a lack a sleep can be far more serious.
“There’s a research study that states if you’re getting under five or six hours of sleep, you’re functionally incapacitated,” said Baker. “You’re essentially operating at the same level as somebody who’s had a couple of [alcoholic] drinks.”
Baker encouraged anyone continuously unable to get in a proper sleep cycle each night to reach out.
“It’s truly slowing response time, slowing cognitive ability down,” said Baker. – Everything is impacted.”
Any person who can be seen at the Primary Care Clinic on post can request Baker’s services. She said she accepts all patients — from children to adults, and dependents to service members — into her care.
“While not sleeping well is an incredibly common issue for people to be going through, it’s not something that you have live with,” said Baker. “It’s something that can be addressed with support.”
Baker said on the whole, having a healthy sleep schedule is one of the key factors to overall wellness – and she’s here to help.
“If you’re not sleeping well and you have stress, that stress is amplified,” said Baker. “It makes everything in your life harder if you’re not starting on a firm foundation with sleep.”