Sleepless in rural MN

by Mary Rains

Mille Lacs Health System

Every night, millions of people in the US struggle to either fall asleep or stay asleep. Sometimes it’s only a temporary problem, but for others, it’s big enough to affect their waking hours in some troubling ways. Chronic insomnia can cause, among other things, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, and increased errors or accidents. It’s a problem that affects work, home and school. This is not a physiological problem like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. It’s a sleep disturbance that keeps a person from getting the sleep they need to feel rested the next day.

Mille Lacs Health System has a new provider whose specialty is behavioral sleep medicine. “Sleep disruption and disorders often have a connected behavioral basis,” said William Hoekstra, Psy.D. LP from the Minnesota Insomnia Center. From bedtime and other sleep disturbances in children, to senior citizens and the inability to sleep through the night, behaviors that center around sleeping can often be treated with a specialized therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia - CBT-I. CBT-I’s goal is to improve sleep success by identifying and changing problematic habits and behaviors affecting an individual’s ability to sleep well.

“When you treat the behavior around the problem, you can often avoid medication to fall and stay asleep,” said Dr. Hoekstra, who has a “virtual” practice. His real-time, video-linked sessions can take place in the patient’s home via a privacy-protected (HIPAA-compliant) channel. Or, if the patient does not have a computer, they can make an appointment to take their virtual session at Mille Lacs Health System in a private space. This type of new tele-medicine allows practitioners to “see” patients in their own homes, so to speak, without anyone having to travel to receive treatment.

Dr. Hoekstra is a Certified Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist, who has experience with a range of sleep problems amongst all ages. He takes great pride in providing high quality, patient-centric care as well as practical mental health education.

The service is affordable and Dr. Hoekstra states most issues can be dealt within 3-4 sessions. Although Dr. Hoekstra does not currently work with insurance companies, the treatment is covered by insurance carriers and would qualify for a medical reimbursement through health savings accounts. “No matter where you are, you can receive care,” he said. “The treatment is highly effective and ultimately more helpful than medication, which has its own set of risks and side effects.”