Humans spend around one-third of their lives sleeping and when we sleep, our bodies get to work on things that they cannot during our waking hours. From muscle repair to memory consolidation to releasing hormones that regulate growth and appetite, the body uses the time we spend sleeping to give us the best chance of being happy and healthy. While the benefits of sleep can never be overemphasized, many people are plagued by persistent difficulties with sleeping—a condition known as insomnia.
In this eye-opening article, we hope to explain what insomnia really is, what counts as insomnia, its causes and effects, and how you can be free again.
How Is Insomnia Different From Sleep Deprivation?
Medical professionals describe insomnia as a sleep disorder characterized by difficulties with falling or staying asleep. Does that description whisper ‘sleep deprivation?’ Well, not exactly. While both of them evidently deal with lack of sleep, insomnia persists even with the opportunity to sleep. You usually find yourself be lying down in your bed, covered up in a cosy blanket, staring at the wall clock as the night ticks away while wondering why you just can’t get a wink of sleep.
With sleep deprivation, on the other hand, there are externally imposed restrictions on your opportunity to sleep. Picture a student staying awake all night to prepare for a test or a security guard working on a night shift. Usually, with sleep deprivation, one tends to incur what is known as sleep debt, and if you continue to have more deprivations, it gets increasingly harder to fix.
Another difference between insomnia and sleep deprivation lies in the state of mind. With insomnia, there is no willingness to stay awake. The only thing you usually want to be doing at that time is sleeping. But you find yourself wide awake, alert and disturbed. With sleep deprivation, especially in the early stages, you are usually willing to stay awake for specific reasons such as work, studies, prayer, etc., however, if this drags on for a long time, it could degenerate into insomnia as you’d begin to find it hard to sleep even when you want.
Ultimately, you can relatively easily end your sleep deprivation by changing your habits and sleep patterns to enhance the amount and quality of sleep you get. It is important to note that with sleeping disorders, we are not just paying attention to the hours of sleep, but also the quality of sleep. Insomniacs might get a few hours of sleep before daybreak and sometimes they could even get a full eight hours, but when they wake up, they feel weak and out of shape, like they never slept at all.
What Causes Insomnia
While insomnia, by itself, is a disorder, it can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or just a side effect of some medication. When you have insomnia, one of these could be the reason.
Anxiety, Depression, and Stress
Illnesses such as cancer, asthma, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, kidney diseases, etc.
Medications such as antidepressants, corticosteroids, contraceptives, etc.
Other sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, hypersomnia, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm, etc.
How does insomnia affect your mental health?
Insomnia may not sound like cancer, but it is a very critical condition because of the toll it takes on both physical and mental welfare. In fact, in a study covering 1 million participants, it was realized that lack of sleep shortens lifespans by 12%. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Raison of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network, people often overlook insomnia because it is common, they dismiss it as normal, and many people go through it without treatment.
Untreated insomnia poses several detrimental effects on quality of life: Fatigue, irritability, difficulty paying attention, memory disorders, among others. On a broader scale, insomnia has been linked with severe mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. Insomnia has also been linked to negative emotional processing. This simply means that people with insomnia—and sleep disorders, in general— tend to show greater reactivity to unpleasant images. It entails a lot of pessimism, fear, and all shades of negativity.
From sleeping pills to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a number of remedies have been brought forward over the years to curb the menaces of insomnia. It is important to understand, however, that while sleeping pills can give you temporary relief from insomnia, they do not cure insomnia. If abused, they can make insomnia worse over time. On the brighter side, however, more sustainable methods such as self-hypnosis and guided meditation are available for you.
Overcoming Insomnia Through Self-Hypnosis & Guided Meditation
Among the several holistic or alternative therapies prescribed for insomnia, hypnosis has become a lot more accessible than it used to be. Hypnotherapy has been used for several decades in treating so many kinds of physical and mental conditions and has continued to grow more popular over the years. One key attribute of hypnotherapy is its ability to induce a deep state of relaxation and optimized responsiveness, which paves the way to altering behaviours and reactions that contribute to chronic health conditions.
Even better, you no longer need the physical presence of a trained expert to be able to get a good dose of hypnosis. This is because of the introduction of self-hypnosis and guided meditation.
Self-hypnosis and guided meditation allow you to get all the services of an expert remotely. You get to listen to the voice and instructions of the expert through mediums such as audio and video recordings. Self-hypnosis and guided meditation help you overcome insomnia by making your mind highly suggestible to the positive, modifying words of your therapist. For these positive, modifying messages to work effectively, these techniques will first get you down to a deeply relaxed and open state of mind.
By the end, you will find that you no longer have difficulties with getting quality sleep. To be able to get the most out of self-hypnosis and guided meditation, it is essential to pay attention to some behaviours which could negatively affect the speed of recovery. For example, proper exercising and healthy eating will give you a boost in the recovery process while alcohol, caffeine, and abusive use of sleeping pills will slow down your recovery. Also, before each session, adequate preparation is vital if you’d like to get optimal results.
The worst part of having insomnia is underestimating how it can affect your life in general. When you can’t get a proper night’s sleep, the next day becomes entirely chaotic. You get closer to mental health issues, and the lack of rest leaves you fatigued and vulnerable. However, insomnia can be overcome with self-hypnosis and guided medication, along with the right lifestyle changes. It only takes finding the right expert and being dedicated to the healing process.