About 40% of adults in developed countries complain about difficulty falling asleep and poor sleep. Are there ways to cure insomnia?
Insomnia: when self-control is awake
The fact that insomnia is not fatal is unlikely to comfort those who experience it. Every night, about two out of five Americans can’t sleep. They face the classic paradox – they want to fall asleep so badly that they don’t get it. “Sleep is a deeply controversial state,” said Emily Martin, a professor at New York University who is investigating insomnia (insomnia). “This is a precious treasure … but it differs from other benefits in that in order to attain it you must seem to stop striving for it.” The famous Austrian psychiatrist Victor Frankl noted in 1965: “A dream [like] a pigeon that landed on someone’s hand and stayed there until it was noticed; but if someone tries to catch him, he will immediately fly away.”
Insomnia is a unique condition that is hard to cure, because it occurs on its own. And all because of the fact that often the brain cannot stop thinking about yourself. A good example: someone says that they will rate you by how quickly you can relax. Most likely, you will react by tightening it tightly. Your brain constantly checks how close you are to the target, and this self-control does not stop for a second. In the same way, as the need for sleep increases, it becomes more and more elusive. Every night the problem is compounded, resulting in chronic insomnia.
“For some, insomnia is not due to the fact that the brain forces itself to work. Sometimes people stop sleeping well because of their age. The structure of sleep changes as we grow older. If at 25 years old barking dogs did not prevent you from sleeping, then after forty he does not allow to fall asleep. These changes occur gradually, over a decade, and become more noticeable by the age of fifty. By age 65, a person usually has such a sleep schedule: he falls asleep around nine o’clock in the evening and wakes up at three or four in the morning.
Insomnia for older people is actually an ancient survival mechanism. The ancient people were extremely vulnerable in their sleep, because they did not have fangs or claws to scare away predators. According to Carol Wortman, an anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta, the changing nature of sleep suggests that the brain works as if we lived and slept in a community.
Indeed, at the three main age stages (in adolescence, middle age and old age) people sleep in completely different ways. During puberty, it is impossible to fall asleep early, and I want to wake up after ten in the morning. Grandparents usually fall asleep early, but do not sleep more than three or four hours at a time. For middle-aged people, time is unprincipled: they are happy to go to bed early, if circumstances allow, or they may not sleep at all, when work is hard at work. It is possible that the meaning of such overlapping schedules is as follows: in a family, someone must always be awake and watch their surroundings or be able to wake up quickly in case of danger. ”
Treatment of insomnia: hypnotics or psychotherapy?
Many people start taking medication so that insomnia does not ruin their lives. True, those who are trying to stop drinking sleeping pills again have trouble sleeping. Trying to fall asleep at night without medication, people feel the stress that has restarted the cycle of insomnia.
However, there is a way to cure insomnia, and at the same time the patient’s condition does not deteriorate as soon as the tablets run out. Charles Maureen, a psychology professor at the University of Laval in Quebec, has studied for over a decade whether behavior change can cure insomnia as effectively as medicine. His study focused on the type of counseling known as cognitive behavioral psychotherapy.
For insomnia sufferers, therapy usually lies in the fact that they are helped to get rid of the fear that they will become useless the next day due to poor sleep. Patients suffering from insomnia, believe that if they do not sleep at night, then they will immediately have problems. Therefore, at night they suffer because of every second, spent without sleep, perceiving it as a grain of salt, which is sprinkled on the wound.
In 1999, 78 people over 55 years of age who had suffered from chronic insomnia for at least fifteen years participated in the Morin study. He divided them into four groups. Participants in the first group received restoril, sedative benzodiazepine, which is usually prescribed for short-term insomnia. The second group was treated with the help of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, whose task was to improve the expectations and stereotypes associated with sleep. The subjects from this group were supposed to keep a sleep diary and discuss their lifestyle with the consultant.
Maureen gave a placebo to the third group, and the fourth group treated with restoril and psychotherapy.
Insomnia: a cure has been found, but not for everyone
The experiment lasted eight weeks. Upon its completion, Maureen asked each participant how much his sleep quality had changed. Patients taking sleeping pills noted the most noticeable improvements in the first days of the study – they slept all night long and, contrary to expectations, never woke up. The participants who underwent psychotherapy improved their sleep to the same extent, although a few days later.
Maureen then made an important discovery in the field of insomnia research. Two years later, he contacted all participants in the experiment and again asked them about the dream. It was a radically new approach to the study of the violation, because it was believed that it was cured as soon as the patient begins to sleep normally.
Maureen wanted to understand what eliminated the hidden causes of insomnia – sleeping pills or psychotherapy. Those who took the pills during the study admitted that insomnia returned as soon as they dropped the medication. At the same time, the majority of participants who underwent cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy continued to sleep as well as during the study.
In 2004, another study was conducted, as a result of which it became clear that every second person who was treated by the method of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy never again felt the need for sleeping pills. The results of this and other studies were so convincing that various organizations, starting with the National Institute of Health and ending with the magazine Consumer Reports, called cognitive behavioral psychotherapy the most effective way to treat insomnia.