Sleep is an example of a daily activity that is experienced by us all and yet even with all of today’s greatest thinkers, and our advanced technology, we still do not fully understand why we need it or what is happening to us when we sleep. Not getting enough sleep can be by design or due to bad health, but it is also often due to simply not being able to get to sleep when we want to.
Some people are refreshed by a few hours at night and others feel tired in the morning even after the anecdotal average sleep requirement of eight hours. Although the amount of sleep we need varies depending on our daily activities, everyone knows when they are not getting enough by their performance in tasks at work and in the home.
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Medication as an Aid to Sleep
Medication can help the body relax and calm the mind and so may help sleep come. The pills contain what are called “sleep hypnotics,” which either induce sleep or drowsiness and so cause it come more quickly.
Being benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and various hypnotics they can be addictive either physically or by simple mental dependence.
The Side Effects of Sleeping Pill Medication
As with any prescribed drugs and some over-the-counter medication, these unnatural chemicals are toxic and affect the balance and effectiveness of bodily functions. They can be extremely dangerous for people with breathing difficulties as they deliberately slow down breathing and cause it to be more shallow.
The side effects can include many digestive disorders as well as more worrying symptoms such as burning or tingling in hands, arms, feet and legs. They can cause dizziness; uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body; general weakness or even sleepwalking.
( Source: WebMD Side Effects of Sleeping Pills )
The Imagination as Strong as Medication
Work and home commitments may cause us to deliberately reduce the amount we sleep to increase the number of hours in the day, but if someone is going to bed and finding it difficult to get to sleep then there may be a simple explanation.
The clue is in what is being thought of while lying in bed. It is a clear fact that the mind can be fooled into thinking that what we see in our imagination is real. How much pleasure do we get from fantasies? How is it that our bodies can react to pictures in our head when they are imaginary and not real events?
Perhaps the strongest example is sexual fantasy, where the body appears to truly react as if something is really happening, but we can also get emotions and feelings from imagining places and events from our history. We can get pleasure from places we have never event been to just by picturing ourselves there using memories from TV shows or through a description in a book.
Sleep Deprivation Aided by Imagination
When people go to bed, they have different attitudes to sleep. Some invite sleep with no problem because they enjoy it and welcome it as time put to good use. Others see sleep as a waste of time as they could be working or at a club or socializing with friends.
If sleep is seen as an undesirable event, then usually the time in bed is spent thinking about conversations that will take place the next day or work that needs to be done or perhaps going over a conversation that has already happened. In fact, the brain does not see it as thinking about something but instead is fooled into thinking that it is really happening.
If the brain thinks that the work or the conversation is really happening then why would it go to sleep?
Sleeping Aids That Avoid Medication
Many families have passed down the excellent advice to help the body relax by the concentration on different parts of the body. This method is particularly good for adults helping children get to sleep. The instructions are usually to work the way up from the toes through the feet and the legs and then the hips and the chest and down into the arms. The concentration then moves back up through the arms to the neck and parts of the face to the top of the head. When done slowly, repeatably, and almost hypnotically, it is very effective in producing sleep.
Following on from the power of the imagination, the method can be seen to work because it brings the person back to the reality of being in bed and wanting to go to sleep.
Another effective way of causing the mind to be present in reality is to be deliberately conscious of the surroundings. The technique is to actually be aware of sounds and movements and not let the thoughts travel to another place for work or conversation. This is particularly good for people who cannot sleep on airplanes or trains.
This time the body should rest, either in bed on in the seat with the eyes closed. Concentration should now be on the details of what is going on around. What can be heard? What can be felt?
In a slow and sleepy voice in the head, these things should be described.
For example: “I can hear the hum of the engines with a rhythm of slow increase and decrease in volume. A woman is talking behind me on my left side. My left arm has something pressing against it just above the elbow. I felt a draft on my right cheek of someone walking past me…”
These methods have been proven again and again to provide rest for the weary who cannot sleep.
Sleep deprivation can ruin careers and lives but the solution may be a simple technique as an aid to avoid medication.