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:
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.
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.