I have had insomnia for nearly three months. It's severity has increased gradually to the point where I now sleep 3-4 hours every other night. I know a lot of this is anxiety related. I definitely feel cognitively impaired during the daytime, and my mood isn't up to par - both of which are affecting my school and work life.
Beyond all the standard CBT techniques and "folk remedies" I have tried trazodone, melatonin, klonopin, valium (currently at 20 mg), remeron, lunesta and ambien CR--all to no avail.
When my sleep progressively deteriorated, I had a sleep study which revealed I had two sleep disorders. I truly believe my body and brain were reluctant to sleep because they knew it would be miserable and unsafe. When a person begins having trouble sleeping and normal sleep hygiene routines don't resolve it, it's time to find out why.
Poor sleep quality can occur as a result of sleep apnea or clinical depression. Poor sleep quality is caused by the individual not reaching stage 4 or delta sleep which has restorative properties.
Major depression leads to alterations in the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, causing excessive release of cortisol which can lead to poor sleep quality.
In many cases, insomnia is caused by another disease or psychological problem. In this case, medical or psychological help may be useful.
Many insomniacs rely on sleeping tablets and other sedatives to get rest. All sedative drugs have the potential of causing psychological dependence where the individual cannot psychologically accept that they can sleep without drugs.
Melatonin has proved effective for some insomniacs in regulating the sleep/waking cycle, but lacks definitive data regarding efficacy in the treatment of insomnia.
Recent research has shown that cognitive behavior therapy can be more effective than medication in controlling insomnia. In this therapy, patients are taught improved sleep habits and relieved of counter-productive assumptions about sleep.
Some traditional and anecdotal remedies for insomnia include: drinking warm milk before bedtime, taking a warm bath, exercising vigorously for half an hour in the afternoon, eating a large lunch and then having only a light evening meal at least three hours before bed, avoiding mentally stimulating activities in the evening hours, going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting up early, and avoiding exposing the eyes to too much light, especially blue light, a few hours before bedtime.
Using aromatherapy, including jasmine oil, lavender oil, Mahabhringaraj and other relaxing essential oils, may also help induce a state of restfulness. Many believe that listening to slow paced music will help insomniacs fall asleep.
The more relaxed a person is, the greater the likelihood of getting a good night's sleep. Relaxation techniques such as meditation have been shown to help people sleep. Such techniques can lower stress levels from both the mind and body, which leads to a deeper, more restful sleep.
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