Sleep Disturbance and Disease Part 2

3 July 2019/ Sleep Related Issues

In the last part we looked at a number of serious diseases caused or somewhat caused by sleep disturbance and a number of different diseases that can cause sleep disturbance.  In this part we'll look at other causal factors of sleep disturbance related to disease and how hypnotherapy can help.

Medications to beware of

Insomnia, one of the most prevalent form of sleep disturbance, can also be caused by the pharmacological medications used to treat these same diseases (as well as a number of others).

So the medications to watch out for are those for:

  1. Cold & flu
  2. High Blood Pressure & Heart disease
  3. Thyroid disease
  4. Birth control
  5. Asthma
  6. Pain
  7. Depression (especially SSRIs)

Deficiencies and Nutrition

By contrast, sleep disturbance may also indicate a deficiency in certain nutrients (vitamins & amino acids as well as minerals):

Some common nutrients you may be lacking include:

  • Vitamins  B, B12, C, D3
  • the amino acid L-tryptophan
  • The mineral ions of Magnesium, Calcium, Lithium, Boron
  • Glucose if suffering from nocturnal hypoglycaemia

Some of these nutritional issues can be corrected by changing diet or buying readily available supplements.  Some corrections involve changing habits.  Obviously, habit changing is where hypnosis is useful.

Lifestyle Issues

As well as all the other factors, sleep hygiene and lifestyle issues can also cause sleep disturbance.  In fact, these are often the easiest things to fix and are often the single biggest block on the path to good sleep.

Apart from the most obvious, shift-work and getting out of circadian rhythm, small children(!) and unhelpful noise there are a bunch of other things to check.

Sleep Hygiene

If you're not getting the sleep you want, consider :

  • your use of alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs
  • your consumption of coffee and tea
  • whether you engage in exercise within 3 hours of attempting sleep
  • whether you use blue-lights prior to bed (phones and other screens, night-lights, fluorescent lighting)
  • Other cognitive arousal triggers

Mouth and Jaw

Breathing obstructions and teeth-grinding also fall into the category of lifestyle issues because they can often be fixed by changing the habitual sleeping position.  Sometimes it's also wise to see a sleep dentist and get checked for OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) particularly if you're waking up with a headache.  I am happy to work hand in glove with sleep dentists.   

These lifestyle issues are particularly amenable to intervention with clinical hypnosis, but they are only the beginning.

Clinical Hypnosis

We can address a great many of the factors affecting sleep with Clinical Hypnosis; it's not just about the relaxation.

The power of suggestion on involuntary functions

First of all, if there is a mechanism preventing good sleep that is in some way controlled by the nervous system, it can be targeted via the unconscious mind.  A protocol of both direct and indirect suggestions, can "teach" the organism better employment of existing resources in specific and limited contexts.  Since the unconscious mind already has considerable control over much of the involuntary aspects of nervous system function this is no where near as far-fetched as it often seems. 

A vehicle for therapies

Secondly, clinical hypnosis is a superior vehicle for delivery of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) interventions.  As a "third generation" therapy, CBT is considered the gold standard in psychological intervention for Primary Insomnia.  Other therapeutic interventions still exist but they can be easily "folded in" to the CBT framework.  For non-Primary Insomnia sleep issues, CBT often still has a place.  But even where it does not Clinical Hypnosis can be used and is used as a vehicle for a number of other intervention styles.  This makes hypnotherapy an excellent delivery system for solutions to a number of associated sleep issues.

Access to causal factors and post-pathology healing

Thirdly, hypnosis ultimately allows clinician and client to begin to achieve more control of the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses, hormonal cascades, involuntary muscle groups and ultimately the immune/healing system itself.  This means clinical hypnosis interventions can eventually address, not only sleep behavioural issues, but many of the non-behavioural causal factors and even some of the damaging after-effects of long term sleep loss.  This does not mean a person can keep burning the candle at both ends.  Far from it.  But once your sleep is improving clinical hypnosis can also help accelerate  your body's natural systems to repair the damage already done.  

A caveat

One further caveat is hypnosis is no substitute for nutrition.  It can help your internal chemistry lab to synthesize, say, melatonin from tryptophan.  But if you're short of basics like Mg 2+, Omega 3 or vitamin B12 no amount of hypnosis is going to create it in your body.  

As an all around tool for dealing with sleep disturbance clinical hypnosis has a lot to recommend it but it is no magic wand. 

Treat it with respect.

You will be glad you did.

Some further reading:

Held, K. Antonijevic, IA. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002 Jul;35(4):135-143

Ng, Beng-Yeong & Lee, Tih-Shih, Hypnotherapy for Sleep Disorders, Annals Academy of Medicine Singapore, 2008 37(8) pp.633-688

Weeks, Bradford S. “Ortho” Approaches to Correcting Sleep Disruption, (Lecture); The Weeks Clinic for Corrective Medicine & Psychiatry 2006

Bryant, R.A. The additive benefit of hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy in treating acute stress disorder Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2005 Apr;73(2):334-340

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