By David A. Mayen
With 75 million Americans now having difficulty with insomnia, it stands to reason that the field of sleep medicine has created a multitude of choices for dealing with poor sleep. Everything from anxiety related insomnia to restless leg syndrome seems to have its own specialists. The irony is that most people battling with issues connected with chronic sleep depravation have the most problems choosing what best to do. So to simplify this process, we have grouped together several areas of discipline to help you find the best help, with the least effort.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA:
Because this sleep disorder is the most deadly, its always a good idea to rule this one out first. Ask your partner or spouse if you snore. If yes, than asked if you also stop breathing, and choke or gasp for breath multiple times during the night. The urban myth about OSA is that you need to be overweight to have it. Not true! Many people have apnea and are as thin as a beanpole. Other solid symptoms of OSA are chronic daytime tiredness or fatigue, dry morning mouth and uncontrollable irritability.
If these symptoms are present, your primary doctor can usually help by prescribing an “at home” sleep study. The overnight sleep lab testing centers seem to becoming a thing of the past. With newer technology, at-home studies can provide as good or better data–simply due to the fact that you are in your own bed and familiar environment.
We’re not sure exactly why, but most insomniacs have grave difficulty with procrastination. If the above checklist sounds like you, please call your doc right away.
Over-Active/Under-Active Central Nervous System (CNS) Conditions:
In many instances, people with insomnia problems have bio-electrical, or brainwave imbalances at the core of there nightly sleep disturbances. For those in the field of neurofeedback, this is not anything new. But to most sleep disorder specialists, they either haven’t taken the time to look at the scientific studies proving it, or they have simply waved it off as some “new-age” alternative medicine thing. The sad truth about this issue is these very same doctors doing the waving are appearently writing prescriptions for Ambien like candy. Make no mistake, taking Ambien long term is not effective sleep medicine.
People with this condition most always have some degree of problem with anxiety, panic or both. They will toss and turn a lot and will be self described “life-long” light sleepers. Busy brain is a big problem as well, it’s like the CNS is stuck in 5th gear. When it’s time for the brain and CNS to downshift into the lower gears, these folks will just lay there in bed and THINK.
This population is the 180 degree opposite of Over-Actives. Under-Actives can sleep 12-14 hours a night and still wake up exhausted. There brains get stuck in 1st and 2nd gear and never seem to get “up to speed”. Staying focused on anything is next to impossible. And caffeine is their very best friend.
The cool thing about the above mentioned field of neurofeedback is that it’s possible to re-train the human brain and CNS to re balance back to normal levels. Over-Active brains are retrained to use lower gears when needed. Under-Actives are shown how to up shift, but only when its task specific. And the best thing about neurofeedback, (as opposed to permanently taking medications) is that when the CNS is rebalanced, it seems to stay that way long term.
OSA and CNS conditions do not get better on their own. Sufferers would be best served by not delaying treatment and seek help for insomnia ASAP.
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