“I go to bed and can’t fall asleep!” “At night, I wake up often!” “When the alarm goes off, I have been awake for a while” “I never have a restful sleep” “I always had bad sleep! Nothing can be done!” “My lack of sleep is killing me!”
These are some of the more despaired and stressful complaints patients often get off their chests while searching, nonetheless, for a specialized assistance from Sleep Medicine to remedy their insomnia related disorders.
However, most of those who suffer its consequences in their daily lives, don’t even know that it’s possible to improve the quality of their sleep. Most of all, they have no idea of how important that is for their physical health, their emotional balance and for their performance in their daily activities.
We live in a 24 hours society, with multiple attractive stimuli, which lead and car
ouse us into prolonged waking periods. Continuous TV shows, convenience stores open 24/7, the overall increase of shift labors or the nightlife sensation lead us into a state of permanent alert, as if the day became the night, disregarding the circadian rhythm that regulates our existence.
We also live in a rushed life, where more time is never enough for all we must or want to do…or should do during the day. It is as a last minute race to catch a train, that often leads to Nowhere, since we want or need so many destinations. Not only our day becomes our night, but it also threatens the diversity and intensity of our daily experiences – tasks, thoughts, emotions, projects, concerns or issues – which leads to activity levels that delay the arrival of drowsiness and disturb its prolonged effect during the night.
Our good or bad sleep can’t be blamed to a single source; but rather to several factors – environmental, behavioral, cognitive, emotional – which become obstacles to the normal workings of our sleep-wake system, which we know (or don’t know) to be involuntary. We are strict when complaining about that a rough night will bring us a bad day.
Underlining the patient’s comments, which I quoted at the beginning of this text, there are many factors related to insomnia, which we will soon deal about in this blog.
For now, there is a message of hope made clear in the title of this text: BETTER SLEEP IS POSSIBLE!
Therefore, if you have a bad sleep, don’t resign yourself to it. And most of all, never give up learning about how to sleep better.
Helena Rebelo Pinto, Psychologist, PhD
Lisbon May 31st 2013