Sleep: A Key to A Balanced Life

| 13 Comments

A common condition I encounter in my medical practice is insomnia.

According to the website sleepeducation.com, 10% of adults have a chronic form of insomnia. This means they have had problems sleeping 3 times per week for at least 3 months.

Causes of Insomnia

The following are some of the causes of insomnia:

1. Hyperarousal

Primary insomnia is due to a state of hyperarousal. When a brain wave test known as an EEG or electroencephalogram is done, it reveals more beta waves than the others (alpha, delta and theta).

These beta waves are present when we are awake as opposed to alpha waves which are predominant when we are in a state between wakefulness and sleep as occurs during daydreaming or meditation.

People who have primary insomnia also secrete more cortisol, a hormone involved in the stress response.

2. Poor Sleep Hygiene

Poor sleep hygiene also contributes to insomnia.

3. Social Issues

Work and family issues as well as other social stressors also contribute to insomnia.

Sleep, then, is a very good mirror on how balanced a person’s life is.

Treatment of Insomnia

A good number of the patients who struggle with insomnia are given sleeping medications. These promote sleep by affecting certain neurotransmitters like GABA. Although they do help, I find they are not a permanent solution.

I believe that when life’s stresses permeate so deeply as to affect one’s sleep, the solution must come from within. The person needs to “re-learn” how to sleep.

CBT for insomniaAn article in the June 8, 2015 New York Times by Austin Frakt describes a method termed cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a way to treat insomnia.

Frakt cites a review that looked at time to get to sleep and sleep time when using CBT.

The conclusion was that CBT is an effective way to treat insomnia.

Mr. Frakt in his article cites an online way to learn CBT as well.

What I like about CBT is that it empowers the person to take control of the situation they are in.

You learn to tell yourself when you do not have a good night sleep, that it is not a bad thing. You simply have had less less sleep less or not slept well enough.

Training your mind to see insomnia as a physiological imbalance needing to be corrected, rather than a fault in yourself, is quite freeing.

What are your thoughts on insomnia or CBT? What methods work for you? I am interested in your comments.

13 Comments

  1. Although I do not suffer from insomnia, I did find your post and the articles listed interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    Peaceful Practice provides very useful information about insomnia!! I know many of you need more sleep!!

  3. My insomnia is a result of sleep procrastination. Now it has set its feet deep inside. Without sleeping pills I can’t sleep. No therapy or meditation works.

  4. Reduce caffeine intake. Exercise and diet helps. Plus doing work helps.

  5. I have experienced insomnia erratically during certain periods in my working life (I superannuated just six months back, after a long corporate career of 37 years), and I got over it without any medication. The triggers, I found, were anxiety stresses or excitement caused by creative urges. What works is regular exercise, early dinner, say by 8pm latest, structured life, and a fixed time for retiring for the night. I am a non-smoker, staunch vegetarian and a teetotaller, the only concession is an occasional glass of good wine on rare occasions, and the other concession is addition of daily intake of eggs with breakfast, specifically on doctor’s advice as I ran into a B12 deficiency manifesting as joint pains. The mantra is organised lifestyle and regular outdoor exercise.

  6. I suffer from insomnia, and I’m sure it’s caused by stress. I’m a romance author, always trying to produce a book, and I’m slow at it, at least by the standards of short, fast reads put out by so many authors these days. Consequently, I often find myself lying awake at night worrying and thinking I should get up and work. I take a mild sedative at bedtime but it doesn’t always work. Oddly enough, if I get up, fix a cup of coffee (with caffeine) and have a light snack while I work for an hour or two, I get sleepy and am able to return to bed and actually sleep.

    It doesn’t help matters that I’m handicapped and do not get a lot of physical exercise.

    • Thanks so much for reading and your reply. Certainly stress plays a role in insomnia. Although odd, stimulants can sometimes have calming effects in hyperactivity as well. Although you should consult your physician before taking anything there are natural sleep aids that work well and meditation is great for stress. Thanks again!

  7. Thank you for your advice. I will discuss sleep problems with my family doctor.

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