Insomnia can be Successfully Treated Without the Use of Addictive Pharmaceutical Sleeping Pills
Getting enough sleep is extremely necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies and minds. As humans, we heal when we sleep so getting at least 8 hours or more of sleep per night is important in maintaining our well being. Unfortunately, millions of people suffer from insomnia. Sleep deprivation can be very dangerous and can lead to serious health conditions.
Chronic insomnia is caused by many factors that can be safely eliminated. People with sleep disorders need to limit or discontinue the use of stimulants within 8 hours of bedtime. Additionally, stopping alcohol, heavy meals, and exercise within 3 hours of bedtime can also help.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has been up to 80% successful in treating those with sleep deprivation. CBT-I is a treatment that focuses on the reasons why an individual has problems sleeping and not what drugs to prescribe that will mask the root problems of his or her insomnia. This therapy has helped insomniacs with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety to sleep. Cognitive behavior therapy is founded on the principle that insomnia is perpetuated by factors that are controllable.
If you are having problems sleeping, discontinue your evening cup of coffee of tea and turn off your television or computer an hour before bedtime for a restful and pleasant sleep.
Nearly half of all Americans suffer from occasional sleeplessness, and a staggering 15 percent have chronic, unremitting insomnia. We live in a culture where resorting to medication tends to be the first-line treatment. Most people only know about the medications available to treat insomnia: We constantly hear about them on TV, and many friends write about their insomnia sleeping pill use on social media (in the middle of the night). Medicine’s gold standard treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia, which is also known as CBT-I.
CBT-I is a non-drug, short-term treatment and has benefitted people of all ages and many types of patients who have trouble sleeping, including those with insomnia related to chronic pain, depression or anxiety. CBT-I consistently produces results that are comparable to, or even exceed, those of sleeping pills.
CBT-I is based on the concept that chronic insomnia is sustained by a variety of factors that maintain the problem. Examples of these behaviors are sleeping in, going to bed early, napping, using alcohol as a sedative, caffeine use, worrying about your sleep and tossing and turning in bed. These factors are the focus of the treatment.
The first step in CBT-I is tracking your sleep. Completing a sleep diary for two weeks can bring to light issues with sleep hygiene and sleep scheduling and make you more objective about your overall sleep pattern. There are many sleep diaries available online, but a good one should track your bedtime, wake time, how long it takes you to fall asleep and how much you are awake in the middle of the night. It should also record caffeine intake, exercise, napping, alcohol and sleeping pill use.
The next module is sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene should be thought of as the basic building blocks for insomnia treatment. If you don’t have proper sleep hygiene, the other modules won’t work as well. However, fixing sleep hygiene alone typically isn’t a cure for more chronic insomnia. It is the starting point in treatment.
Stimulus control is a highly effective and essential component of CBT-I. Insomnia patients often lie in bed watching TV, reading, worrying and thinking. As a result, the bed becomes associated not only with sleep, but also as a place to be awake. The rule is simple: The bed is only for sleep and sex. If you are awake in bed (usually for roughly 20 minutes, but don’t look at the clock – just guess!), get up, go to a different room (or if you’re in a studio, get up and sit in a chair next to the bed) and do something quiet, calm and relaxing in dim light. When you get sleepy again, go back to bed. If you don’t fall asleep after a little while, repeat the process. No lying in bed awake, no TV in bed, no eating in bed, no phones/computers in bed or during the night.
The next module, sleep restriction, limits your time in bed, therefore increasing your body’s drive to sleep. It goes squarely against common sense that tells us to go to bed earlier or sleep in during the morning to try and “catch up” on lost sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, go to bed later and wake up at the same time every single day. For example, if you only sleep six hours on average per night (based on your sleep diary data), set a fixed wake time daily, count back six hours from that time and this is your wake time. Reassess a week later, and if you’re improving, go to bed 15 minutes earlier each week. Keep the wake time the same.
Relaxation exercises can be used to help quiet the mind and relax the body. There are a number of techniques that can be taught, such as muscle relaxation, deep breathing and biofeedback. You must find what works for you, and many websites (as well as therapists) can guide you through techniques. Patients who feel tense before bedtime show the most benefit from this module.
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