We are currently living in an epidemic of sleeplessness. It is estimated that one in four Americans develop insomnia each year. About 30% of American adults experience symptoms of insomnia.
Lost productivity due to insomnia costs the US economy about $63 billion dollars a year.
Insomnia is linked with mental health, and 83% of those who suffer from depression also experience symptoms of insomnia.
The Role of The Nervous System
We have two primary “modes" of our autonomic nervous system: “fight or flight” mode and "rest and digest" mode. Fight or flight is triggered in response to a real or imaged threat and prepares our bodies for action - to either fight or flee from the threat. The rest and digest mode helps produce a state of equilibrium, where the body can relax and repair itself. Ideally, fight or flight is a short-term state, that is activated in the presence of legitimate threats, and that once the threat has dissipated, we shift back into rest and digest. However, due to many different factors, including lifestyle, caffeine consumption, anxiety and/or trauma, a lot of people are in a chronic state of flight or flight, aka hyperarousal.
When the body is in a chronic or acute stress response, aka flight or flight mode, it will not let you get into a deep restorative sleep. This is because your body is responding like there is a threat to your safety (think tiger outside the camp), and as such, you need to be able to respond to the threat, i.e., wake up at the slightest movement or sound in the room.
A large number of sleep problems actually stem from the body and nervous system believing we are in a chronic threatening situation, because we are in a chronic state of stress (in the bodies language: stress = threat), and its just trying to keep us safe by only letting us access a light, broken sleep. As such, a primary focus of sleep meditation is to “update” the nervous system to understand that the person is safe, and that the nervous system can shift from a stress-response to a relaxed state, and therefore ease into a deep, restful sleep.
Meditation: a healthy, sustainable alternative to sleep medications.
While sleep medications can be a helpful short-term fix to help get people some sleep during acute times of stress or sleep-deprivation, they do not address the underlying issue that is causing the disrupted sleep, and therefore can only be a “band-aid” for the lack of sleep. Sleep medications don’t deliver the same restorative benefits as natural sleep, as most sleep medications are sedatives - and sedation is not the same as sleep. So while they can deliver short-term relief from insomnia, they are not actually taking you into a restful and restorative sleep. Furthermore, most sleep medications have negative side affects. It is best to think of sleeping pills as training wheels: while they help you learn to ride a bike, at some point, you need to take them off. And the sooner you build the habit of riding without the training wheels the better.
Collaborative Provider with
Healing and health often requires a team approach, thats why we are so honored to work with The Breathe Institute, a multi-disciplinary team leading the field of integrative sleep medicine.
We work side by side to make sure all the functional, structural and behavioral issues are addressed, with a world-class team of surgeons, dentists, myofunctional therapists, cranial sacrial therapists, functional nutritionists and sleep hygeine experts.