Very often, patients themselves try to solve the problem of insomnia by taking various medications and drugs on their own. Pharmaceuticals can only be taken as directed by a psychiatrist, while herbal medicines are auxiliary to the patient and can be taken if they help the patient.
How does stress affect sleep quality?
When stressed, insomnia or altered sleep initially performs an adaptive function and helps us cope with stress properly. Because we do not know which of the daily events will be stressful for our body, and which will affect our health. Therefore, during the night, daily events are processed and placed in specific areas of the brain. What we call stress are actually events that didn’t happen overnight. The accumulation of these events over time creates PTSD, which many people suffer from.
How does sleep help cleanse these stressful events?
In sleep, events are processed in what is called REM sleep. This is the phase when the eyes move intensively during sleep, and this is when this cleansing occurs. What is left untreated remains trauma. We also provide our patients with this problem with the so-called EMDR therapy, that is, eye movement therapy, where we treat the trauma by inducing the REM phase in vitro.
Do we need to dream to relieve the burden of stress?
The dream is necessary to keep the body healthy. When we fall asleep, the entire body is “dumped” and returns to its original homeostasis, that is, to a normal state. When we are under stress, the REM phase is processed, so we actually dream about our experience. This is how the body fights stress through dreams. If it fails, it goes into insomnia.
When is insomnia an isolated disease?
Insomnia occurs on its own and is not a symptom of a mental disorder in only three cases: with slip apnea or interruption of breathing during sleep, with restless legs syndrome and with narcolepsy, sudden falling asleep.
How important are sleep events, and do they mean anything to psychiatrists in diagnosis?
We all dream, but sometimes we don’t remember what we dreamed about. Dreams can reveal a lot, but they are always and only symbolically associated with the person who has them. So there are no universal interpretations. For example, depressed people often dream of the murky waters of the dead.
Can insomnia be an independent disease?
Insomnia is usually just a symptom of a disorder. Sometimes patients notice that they have psychological problems, while some seek help only because of insomnia, not knowing what is behind it. They don’t complain about any problems other than sleep.
By the way, denial is one of the unconscious defense mechanisms that is not good and productive (unless this defense is useful for a short period of time and performs an adaptive function). When someone denies the problem for a long time, insomnia occurs.
The role of the psychiatrist is to figure out what is lurking below and to first resolve the sleeping problem and then continue with the deeper problem.