What does Ambien and Xanax do to the human brain?The standard methodology for treating insomnia has been to look at the brain as solely a neuro-chemical engine, ignoring the bio-electrical aspect of that engine completely. Many doctors have been trained extensively in applying pharmacology and have little to no experience in EEG (brainwave and amplitude) approaches to treating insomnia. Both Ambien and Xanax are in a classification of drugs called benzodiazepines. (In Ambien and Xanax, the molecular difference is only about 3 percent). The harmful long-term effects on the human brain due to these medications is substantial. They act on what is called the gaba receptors in the pre-frontal cortex, the brain area which is also in effect the 'grand central station' for all memory and learning. By chemically reducing pre-frontal brain activity, it also severely inhibits the brain's ability to learn anything new. People report chronic forgetfulness, having to read the same paragraph 4-5 times and a general 'numbness' with life overall. The withdrawals off of these medications are also some of worst on medical record.
Does Ambien and Xanax Produce Restful, Restorative Sleep?Sadly, the answer to this is a resounding no. Most people who take these drugs long-term report still waking up with racing thoughts, very light sleep and continued daytime exhaustion. The catch 22 scenario is that if the patient stops taking their usual dose, there's little to no sleep to be had at all. A recently published landmark study has also shown serious health risks in long term use with these medications for insomnia. The studies author, Dr. Daniel Kripke (and colleagues) showed a four fold increase in premature death from taking as little as 18 sleeping pills per year.
See ABC National News coverage on this study:
At Sleep Recovery Centers we take a completely different viewpoint on insomnia. We have seen study after study point to an EEG (brainwave) instability called 'hyper-arousal'. Many people who report difficulty sleeping also have anxiety issues as well. This over-active aspect of hyper-arousal creates symptoms of 'busy brain' or racing thoughts during the day, and especially while trying to fall asleep at night. We also see anecdotal evidence of this over-active brain and central nervous system as being passed down from parent to child genetically. In fact, almost 90% of new clients coming to us for help report one of both of their parents having the exact same challenges in the past as they do now. It also quite common to see other family members follow our clients into our program after observing the positive changes taking place in their parents, children, spouses and siblings.
Addressing the Problem of Insomnia From a Bio-Electrical Perspective
See Fox 11 News coverage of Sleep Recovery Centers: