Suffering from Insomnia?
More and more Americans are suffering from insomnia. According to sleepeducation.com, some statistics about insomnia:
• 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia.
• 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months.
• 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months. A recent study at the University of Arizona College of Medicine found that participants with persistent insomnia had a 58% higher risk of premature death!
Symptoms of Insomnia
For some people or at different times of our lives, the issue is short term. But for others, insomnia is a chronic issue. Symptoms can include:
- brain fog
- depressed mood
- decreased libido
- concentration problems
These symptoms can effect your work and relationships. You can get help now. Zola (name changed) did. Read on to see how she was able to fall asleep faster and sleep through the night.
The Problem – An Insomnia Case Study
Zola is a married, self-employed woman in her 40’s with 2 young children. In our first session, Zola talked about feeling irritable, tired all of the time and not as patient with her kids as she’d like to be. Her sex life was non-existent. While her husband was being patient with her, she was frustrated. Her doctor prescribed Xanax to help her sleep. Even though the Xanax helped her sleep, she didn’t want to rely on it or become addicted to the medication. She was able to function but wanted more.
Something Zola realized, because this had been going on for a while, was that she felt anxious at bedtime. As bedtime approached, she started feeling anxious about feeling anxious. The thought of going to sleep had become very stressful. Falling asleep when you’re anxious is bad enough, but trying to relax when you’re feeling anxious about feeling anxious is even harder. On top of this, once Zola fell asleep, she did not stay asleep. When she woke, her mind started reeling about a myriad of issues or obsessing about one thing. She wanted help!
The Treatment for Zola’s Insomnia
We talked about her experience of her sleep problems. I educated Zola about sleep hygiene (see below). While I am not a nutritionist or the like (and could not prescribe or recommend), we talked about alternatives to Xanax. Zola had already checked with her physician about possible physical health issues that could effect her sleep; there were none. Zola adjusted her caffeine intake, stopped using her computer and watching t.v. within 2 hours of bedtime, and made sure she had some down-time before bedtime to let go of the issues from the day. She also adjusted her bedroom light to be less bright.
Next, we decided to use Brainspotting. Brainspotting (bsp) is a non-verbal treatment that helps you reprocess issues that interfere with your life. With the headphones on (accessing biolateral music and sounds), Zola thought about how she felt (both emotionally and physically). I noticed that her eyes focused on one spot so she had already found her brainspot. The relationship we had built helped Zola feel safe so that she could reprocess whatever arose for her. Our bsp session that day lasted about 45 minutes. At the end of the Brainspotting session, we talked about her experience during the processing. From previous bsp sessions, Zola knew to notice any changes during the time between our sessions.
Sleep, Beautiful Sleep
At our last session, Zola said she hardly uses Xanax anymore. Most of the time, she falls asleep easily and sleeps through the night. For the most part, Zola wakes up feeling rested after 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. She reports being much more patient with her children and husband. She is able to maintain better focus at work and has a sex life again.
If you are interested in getting life back and no longer suffering from the effects of insomnia, call me at (303) 444-2003.
Sleep Hygiene – Tips You Can Try on Your Own
The following are conditions that can affect your sleep:
- Caffeine consumption: Caffeine is a stimulant often present in coffee, tea (not usually herbal teas), soda and chocolate. If you “use” caffeine and have sleep problems, keep your consumption to before noon.
- Screen Usage: Screens on electronic devices such as t.v., computers, tablets and cell phones (possibly e-readers too) create an excitatory response in the brain. Discontinue their use 2 hours prior to bedtime, if possible. Some people with whom I’ve worked are still able to use e-readers once they’ve adjusted their use of the rest.
- Eating: Avoid eating heavy meals after 7 p.m. The organs in your body need to go through periods of rest. If your system is digesting food, it can interrupt this rest cycle. Some people, however, need a small snack before bed. Stay away from protein as it’s harder to digest.
- Sugar Consumption: Eating sugar effects your blood sugar. At first, your blood sugar gets a big boost but then is followed by a crash. Sugar crashes can keep you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
- Drinking: Try to finish your drinking by 8 p.m. to eliminate your need to go to the bathroom during the night.
- Activities in Bedroom: If you’re having trouble sleeping, keep your activities in bed only for sleep and sex.
- Alcohol: See “sugar consumption” bullet.
- Noise, Light, & Temperature: When you are quieting down for bed, the noise should be low and the light dim. We generally sleep better in cooler temperatures than when it’s warm.
- Napping: Keep your naps to only 15 – 20 minutes before 3 p.m.
- Supplements: There are dietary supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, flower essences and other supports that are found in the grocery store. New research is showing that zinc can be helpful (if you’re interested in any of these remedies/supports, talk to a health care professional)
- Melatonin can be a good support for falling asleep. Follow the link to read my blog post about Melatonin.