I’ve never had trouble sleeping in my life until we recently had a major shake-up where I work. But even though things have pretty much calmed down, I still can’t seem to get more than four hours of sleep a night. Half my friends say I should try hypnosis while the others say I should just see a doctor but I’m a little uncomfortable taking pills for what may be a long time.
The main differences between hypnosis and medication is that hypnosis itself puts you in the state that occurs naturally starting about 30 minutes before you fall asleep. That alone starts preparing your body for returning to your normal sleep pattern. Your hypnotherapist will usually make suggestions and give you relaxation techniques that you will use that evening to put yourself back in hypnosis and your brain will start regaining its natural ability to quickly move from hypnosis to regular sleep with all the necessary stages of sleep.
Usually the process takes less than 4-8 sessions, especially if the problem began after something that temporarily changed a person’s routine. Your case sounds very similar with a break in your your normal pattern and now you’re having difficulty getting back to your natural schedule. This often occurs frequently after the holidays.
Doctors have to be very careful when prescribing sleep drugs. No matter what other side-effect(s) they might have, all sleep medications can cause psychological dependence.
The newest type of drug imitates the actions of the brain hormone melatonin which is what normally regulates your sleep/wake cycle. It may take as long as 10 days to become fully effective. Side effects rarely occur, but they include the possibility of doing activities while quasi-asleep like driving, eating, and making phone calls at night and having no memory of them in the morning. Mental changes can occur as well such as agitation, anxiety, nightmares, and other changes in your usual thoughts, mood, or behavior.
Older medications contain selective Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA receptors work in the brain and affect levels of alertness. These are directed specifically at the receptor thought to affect sleep. Side effects include memory problems and activities like sleep driving and sleepwalking.
Often people will use an over-the-counter allergy medicine. Most contain diphenhydramine that works on the body’s histamines, which are what create cold and allergy symptoms. Diphenhydramine also has a sedating effect, hence its use in sleep. While it is efficacious with mild, infrequent insomnia, all histamines are known for creating morning grogginess. Other side effects can include difficulty urinating and confusion or delirium.
While hypnosis’ greatest advantage may be that it has no side effects, because hypnosis has returned your brain to his normal sleep/wake cycle, you will continue your normal sleep schedule while, sometimes, stopping a sleep medication means that your sleeping problems may return.