If you are incredibly sleep deprived, there are some researchers in southern Australia that would be willing to help you – by waking you up 50 times in one night. They are studying a cutting edge, controversial and yet promising insomnia treatment called Intensive Sleep Retraining (ISR). ISR participants are hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG), monitored throughout the night, and encouraged to sleep every 30 minutes. They are repeatedly woken up after only 3 minutes and informed that they had indeed been sleeping. Amazingly enough, in just 25 hours of this somewhat torturous therapy, many individuals break their cycle of chronic insomnia, remembering once again how to fall asleep.
This sleep treatment takes place in a lab. With a committed partner and a stopwatch you could probably emulate it at home, but I wouldn’t count on both parties making it out alive. There are, though, other forms of sleep retraining that are accessible in a normal office setting, and also yielding great results. They are under the umbrella of behavior therapy and include stimulus control therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and sleep hygiene. These treatments are proving to be more effective in the long-term than pharmaceuticals, and I’m excited to be working with my patients in this way.
Based on your unique history and set of symptoms, we design an individual plan aimed at re-learning how to sleep. Many people with insomnia have endured it for years, and a multi-faceted approach that also includes such things as dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, herbs and homeopathy are even more successful. It is also vital that other medical conditions known to impact sleep are ruled out.
My approach to the treatment of sleep disorders was covered in more detail last week at the first class of our Free Health Lecture Series at Kwan-Yin East. In addition to giving an overview of how I can help, I also discussed the physiology of sleep and theories of its necessity. If you missed my lecture, a recent TED talk nicely summarizes these latter concepts in an engaging way.
Kwan-Yin East’s Free Health Lecture Series continues on Thursday evenings through the start of April, with expert clinicians sharing both eastern and western perspectives on common ailments. Topics change weekly, snacks are provided, and all are welcome! Visit our Facebook page for more info and call (503)701-8766 ext 2 to register.