Stress & resilience

insomnia & sleep disorders


You have trouble falling asleep. Or you wake up in the middle of the night. You're lying awake, pondering the emotional and spiritual significance of insomnia, feeling very alone.

Well, if you're experiencing sleeping disorders, you're not alone. Solving sleeping problems, curing sleep apnea, may require medical or other therapeutic help.

We do not know for sure what causes insomnia. A widespread notion is that insomnia is caused by worries. While some sleep experts agree with this, not all do.

Dr. Bonnet, director of the sleep laboratory at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, believes insomnia reflects the fact that insomniacs have higher heart rates and body temperatures: "Their furnace is turned up higher".

Dr. Perlis, director of the sleep research laboratory at the University of Rochester, also sees insomnia as a predisposition rather than the result of excessive worrying. "Some people say you are awake because you are worrying. I would say you are worrying because you are awake."

The New York Times article (1/13/04) from which I took the 2 quotes above goes on to say:

Some people undergo behavioral therapy to treat their insomnia. To make sleep more likely at night, they are told not to compensate for lost sleep by going to bed earlier or napping. To associate the bedroom with sleep only, they are told not to watch television in bed and to leave the bedroom if they wake during the night and cannot get back to sleep.

Dr. Charles Morin, professor of psychology at Laval University in Quebec, found in an oft-cited study that patients getting behavioral therapy did better in the long run than those taking sleeping pills because the effects of the pills wore off after they stopped taking them.

"With medication we tend to get quicker results, but with behavioral therapy we get longer-lasting benefits," Dr. Morin said. But neither therapy works that well, he added. "Very few people actually become good sleepers with treatment."


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