Sleep is driven by both homeostatic drive and circadian rhythms. Homeostatic drive is increased by time awake and energy expended during the day, and the circadian rhythm is the body’s biological clock, governed by light exposure and the brain’s release of melatonin.
It is no wonder sleep deprivation has been used as a torture method, as chronic insomnia has proven to deteriorate our physical, emotional, and mental health. A conventional approach to insomnia involves medications with their own side effect profiles, some with dangerous dependencies, but almost all medications prescribed for sleep disrupt normal sleep architecture. Due to this, patients may start sleeping more with sleeping pills, but are left feeling very unrested and needing more sleep, which continues this dangerous snowball effect of needing more medication. Furthermore, many common conventional medications, such as antihistamines, have side effects that ruin sleep architecture, further contributing to fatigue and insomnia.
Alongside pre-disposing medical conditions and medication side effects, science is showing that a common cause for insomnia is chronic cognitive-emotional hyperarousal associated with sympathetic overactivation and chronic inflammation. What does this mean? Chronic physical and emotional stress are over-riding our natural mechanisms for sleep.
At Balance Medical Center, a thorough and holistic approach to insomnia that addresses other predisposing medical conditions, medications, nutrient deficiencies, stress regulation and lifestyle factors. In particular, the group-based MSP program for chronic fatigue syndrome can help alleviate fatigue, promote healthy sleep, and improve overall health and well-being. Speak with your doctor if you meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, and they can give you a referral to this program.