Like food and water, sleep is a basic human appetite that must be met. Sleep is central to human existence and most require 8 hours per night. You must sleep to be alert, attentive and focused, in other words, to function coherently.
The role of sleep may be best understood when it becomes deficit or disordered. Sleep Deprivation results in adverse effects including slowed reaction times, impaired learning and memory recall, diminished motivation and negative mood to name a few. In addition, Sleep Deprivation exacerbates symptoms of many illnesses, contributes to premature death through a number of means and results in lost productivity and property destruction totaling billions of dollars annually.
Problematic or Broken Sleep Leads to:
- Heart disease, Coronary Artery Disease, Congestive Heart Failure
- High blood pressure
- Learning disabilities
- Problems with mood
Good Sleep Leads to:
- Increased sense of well being
- Improved productivity
- Fewer problems with chronic health conditions
Do You Lose Sleep Over Losing Sleep?
Does your mind race about work, family, a new idea, anything, everything, when it is time to turn out the lights? Do you experience a heighted sense of arousal or physical tension when you get into bed? Do you frequently sleep better away from home? Do you worry about not being able to sleep?
If you answered yes to any of the above and you feel that your sleep is not refreshing, then you may have what sleep specialists term Psycho-physiological Insomnia. Now before you say to yourself, “Hey, doc, I am not crazy”, that is not what this ten dollar term means. It refers an increased level of arousal associated with attempts to sleep in the bedroom. It frequently results from a learned inability to sleep that is characterized primarily by the symptoms referenced in the opening paragraph.
For you non-psychologists, this learned inability to sleep is a type of classical conditioning. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? In classical conditioning a person associates one thing, the stimulus, with a second unrelated thing, the response. In classical conditioning the response is not voluntary, but the association of the stimulus and response is learned. The thinking is, therefore, that patients with psycho-physiological Insomnia have “learned” that they cannot sleep in the bed.
Unlearning this association is simple, but does require some commitment on the part of the patient. A commonly used technique is Stimulus Control Therapy, one of a number of different Cognitive Behavior Therapies employed by sleep specialist. Behavioral therapies involve time and commitment, but are generally effective for many types of chronic insomnia which often have a component of psycho-physiological arousal as a perpetuating factor.
Good sleep promotes good health.