June 23, 2024


Nurturing Whole Body Health

Curing Insomnia – Relax The Mind Rather Than Taking Pills That May Kill You

What is insomnia?

The typical symptoms of insomnia are: repeated difficulty falling asleep, prolonged awakenings, inadequate sleep quality, short sleep duration occurring despite adequate opportunity for sleep. However, some people with insomnia do not have complaints regarding the quantity of sleep, but rather describe their sleep as nonrestorative or too light.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines insomnia as a problem initiating and/or maintaining sleep, or the complaint of nonrestorative sleep, that occurs on at least three nights a week and is associated with daytime distress or impairment. To be considered a medical disorder, insomnia must result in some degree of daytime impairment, such as effects on a person’s mood (e.g. irritability, low level depression, low stress tolerance), on their cognitive functioning (e.g. concentration, performing complex abstract/creative tasks, completing tasks), or on their general energy level (e.g. fatigue).

Depending on the stringency in the criteria for insomnia, different research studies report insomnia to occur in 10-50{c34c06f77d52afff33578e93b7591d6bfac789ab9e1d902f9c4fe14f0d14bf4a} of adults at any given time. Insomnia that lasts less than one month is considered as ‘acute’, and can usually be explained by changes in sleep environment, emotional or physical discomfort, stress and similar factors. When insomnia persists beyond one month, it is considered as ‘chronic’, and has often taken on a life of its own

How is insomnia most often treated?

By far the most common treatment for insomnia is the sleeping pills, which your doctor most likely will prescribe without much hesitation. Typically, the sleeping pills prescribed will be some form of benzodiazepine (like Eszopiclone, Triazolam, Temazepam, Estazolam, Quazepam, or Flurazepam), or one of the ‘Z-pills’ (like Zolpidem, Zoplicone, or Zaleplon), which all act as hypnotics, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants.

But do sleeping pills actually work, and what are the possible side effects from sleeping pills? Yes, in the acute phase (first week) of treatment sleeping pills produce quick and relatively good results. Long-term, however, they may not be an ideal solution to your sleep problem. After three to 14 days of continued use your body will begin to develop a tolerance to the medication, and you will need to increase the dose. You may also develop a dependency on the medication, and end up with withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and shakiness, when you stop taking the pills.

Furthermore, like all medication, sleeping pills come with the risk of unwanted side effects, which can be in the form of drowsiness, mood swings, poor memory, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, or simply increased general clumsiness. Sleeping pills are also associated with increased risk for falls and hip fractures, and for motor vehicle accidents. Even more worrying, however, is recent research performed in Canada under the supervision of Dr Genevieve Belleville, which shows that people who take sleeping pills are more likely to die prematurely than people who don’t.

Curing insomnia for good

As we can see from the above, curing insomnia with sleeping pills comes with a range of considerations. So, what alternatives to sleeping pills are available? Well interestingly, clinical trials have shown that 70-80{c34c06f77d52afff33578e93b7591d6bfac789ab9e1d902f9c4fe14f0d14bf4a} of insomnia sufferers will benefit from psychological therapies, which have no side effects, and which furthermore continue to provide relief long time after the therapy is finished, while after medication is discontinued, sleep improvements are quickly lost.

Since having an “overactive mind” is the most commonly mentioned issue for insomnia sufferers, what you need to learn to do is to relax the mind as well as the body when you go to sleep at night. Relaxing the mind can be done through various forms of exercises, as long as they are practised with “the struggle switch” in its OFF position. Struggling to relax is counterproductive, whether the target is the body or the mind.

To relax the mind, learn to relax the body, and most importantly – the brain. Easier said than done, you may think, but you would be surprised to discover that it can be done in the same way that you relax any other part of the body. But the brain is not a muscle, so how can it relax? Consider the possibility that what you experience when you relax a muscle isn’t actually the relaxation of the muscle, but the easing of the nerve activity that feeds the muscle’s tension. Just pretend that your brain is a muscle, and do exactly what you do when you relax a muscle; let it go completely loose and limp. And soon enough you find that your thoughts have stopped flying around in your mind. Or maybe not, because you may already be asleep and not noticing…

This is one method that you can explore to cure your insomnia. Other methods include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-based therapies, Gestalt therapy, and hypnotherapy.

Relax-the-Mind Sleep Therapy is a drug-free, holistic approach that integrates these psychological therapies with sleep hygiene, behavioural interventions and mental relaxation. It is recommended both as a first-line and long-term solution to insomnia and other similar sleep problems. Above and beyond targeting the acute sleep problem, Relax-the-Mind Sleep Therapy also addresses underlying factors that may have contributed to the development of the acute problem, and that potentially could cause these problems to recur.