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Monthly Archives: November 2013

  • What is Primary Insomnia

    A diagnosis of primary insomnia sounds like it would be the first and most prevalent type, but in fact primary insomnia is infrequently seen. When a person is diagnosed with primary insomnia it means that their sleep problems are not caused by or a symptom of another medical condition. Insomnia that is secondary to or symptomatic of another condition appears far more frequently, and is much easier to treat.

    People who suffer from primary insomnia fall into one of two categories. The first, and most common is a result of conditioning. It is officially referred to as psychophysiological insomnia, though some sleep specialists refer to it as conditioned or learned insomnia. The first indication that a sleep professional gets that the patient they are interviewing may be suffering from this condition is when they describe themselves as being extremely anxious or experiencing great stress when thinking about or trying to get to sleep. One of the reasons that this is considered to be a conditioned response is that most patients find relief when they are outside of their normal sleep environment where there are so many things that remind them of previous nights’ struggles with getting to sleep.  Continue reading

  • Insomnia Related to Depression

    Though many people associate depression with people staying in bed all day long, this may be a false representation of a depressed person – and even if it is correct staying in bed is a far cry from sleeping. Depression and other psychological or emotional problems are often the illness for which insomnia is the symptom.  The difficulty in connecting the dots between insomnia and depression often lies in the fact that when people are suffering from psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression or phobias that may contribute to insomnia, others around them are not aware of these psychological problems. Though most people think of depression as simply being sad, that is not the case. Those who suffer from depression experience a sense of hopelessness, disinterest, anxiety or sadness that impacts every aspect of their lives. Continue reading

  • Sleep Apnea and Snoring

    Though most people have heard of sleep apnea, few realize exactly how prevalent it is or how dangerous it is.  This is extremely unfortunate, as many people suffer from health problems that would be eliminated if only their apnea was diagnosed; many others die without ever having any idea that they were living with a nightly time bomb. People who suffer from sleep apnea simply stop breathing every single night, repeatedly. Their throats close while they are sound asleep and the body struggles to survive without air – sometimes for up to a minute before the oxygen level falls to such a precipitous depth that the brain awakens the body and forces it to gasp for air. The sleeper is not aware that they have experienced this suffocation, or that they have been woken up by it. It returns to sleep, having suffered the effect of oxygen deprivation as well as being robbed of restful sleep. The sleeper has no memory or knowledge of the event the next day, though they are likely exhausted and their internal organs suffer as a result of the stress that they have been put through. Continue reading

  • Techniques for Treating Insomnia

    There are a wide variety of treatments that have been used to treat primary insomnia. Though each has its own merits, the most effective way of eliminating insomnia and restoring normal sleep is usually a combination of many, if not all of the general techniques. We’ll all include a number of alternative treatments that, though not scientifically proven, have provided relief for some.

    Sleep Hygiene

    Think of improving sleep hygiene as something akin to the same effort that is put into dental hygiene. We brush our teeth, floss, pay attention to the foods that we eat and visit the dentist regularly – few of us would purposely choose skipping any of these steps, yet we relegate sleep to a second or third choice after work and social activities – or even the late, late show. The steps that need to be taken to improve sleep hygiene are holistic and encompass both eliminating stimulants like coffee or tea from our diet and improving our attention to our sleep schedule. It also includes making sure that you are sleeping in an appropriate environment, with temperature set appropriately, lights and noise turned down and all distractions eliminated.  Continue reading

  • When Do We Start Sleeping?

    There have been a number of different theories on when sleeping and dreaming actually begins, with most scientists concluding that dreaming was not possible before infants actually started to become conscious and aware of the world around them. But in recent years, as we have gained the opportunity to see into the womb through ultrasound and other technologies, we have learned that sleep begins long before we are born, and that REM sleep is present in babies long before birth.

    The study of neonatal sleep is a relatively new science. We still are not sure when a developing fetus begins to alternate between being awake and being asleep, but we do know that babies that are born prematurely have a distinctive wakefulness pattern, and even though we know that a fetus is extremely active even when it is asleep, we still are able to discern that they spend between 16 and 20 hours sleeping.  Continue reading

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