When sleep won’t come

Because we live in such stressful and demanding lifestyles, we often forget how to relax. This we think can be remedied by a holiday but when we come back we often feel like we need to go on leave again to recover from the whole experience. “The simple reason for that is because our body is so used from enormous stressors that it takes time to rebalance the body.  The lack of sleep is a vicious cycle that is very difficult to break free from. The more tired we are, the more cannot concentrate and the more we stress which leads to even less sleep,” states renowned hypnotist, Kavi Kilawan.

What defines a Sleep disorder?

Many are under the impression that little or no sleep is what a sleeping disorder refers to but, this is not always the case. According to Kilawan in recent years, due to high demanding jobs and now with mobile devices more and more people are suffering from sleeping troubles. A sleeping disorder can be simplified into the following, three categories:

Stage 1 – Disturbed sleep: This is a sleeping pattern defined by when someone does not go into a deep sleep (REM sleep). “The individual hovers around a light alfa and theta sleep. This is when someone is easily aroused and woken up with the slightest noises. Symptoms of this are neck twitching, sudden hot or cold feeling, hearing faint noises and aware of heartbeat and eye movements,” Kilawan explains.

Stage 2 – Medium Sleep: This is when someone goes into delta sleep or deep sleep but keeps awakening almost every 30 mins. This form of disrupted sleep is the most common in today’s high phased and busy world. “This is also largely due to stress and deadlines, with the constant thoughts of something to be done. An example of this is a dentist appointment that scares you or a big meeting that you must present. This types of stress is passed onto many other daily activities due to high demand lifestyles. The other massive contributor is cell phones – with the help of instant messaging and emails on mobile devices, we are kept to an “always on” state. We are expected to be available more than ever before, from a simple hello to lengthy midnight conversations. If you find yourself waking up several times a night to check on your phone than you might have a sleeping disorder,” Kilawan adds.

Stage 3 – Difficulty falling asleep or arousing: This is the most commonly known type of a sleeping disorder, not being able to easily fall asleep when you jump into your bed at night. “The other part is not being able to wake up on time. Many do not realize that not being able to awake when your alarm rings, or someone tries to awake you could also be a potential sleeping disorder. This can also be very dangerous as you may not hear sounds from burglars or even emergencies. This can also be related to falling asleep at work, or when not needed,” remarks Kilawan.

What are the most common reasons for having a sleep disorder?

These can be broken up into two categories, says Kilawan:

1. Conscious Troubles:  These are everything related to our daily lives example stress, big presentations or meetings, anxiety from daily tasks, heartbreak, nervousness and tension. These can be treated and often resolved easily within a few sessions and making better lifestyle changes.

2. Unconscious Troubles: These are referring to issues buried so deep within the subconscious that we often have no recall of the incident. These problems can be related to traumatic events in our pasts most commonly in our early childhood. Often medication alone cannot resolve these problems and they eventually start to affect our daily lives like falling asleep at work or while driving, during a movie, or even while having a relaxed conversation.

What are the treatments available?

“There are many different types of relaxation and sleep therapies available from Buddhist meditation, Sleep therapy through massages, sleep training and my favourite Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy works great as it not only relaxes the mind, but also helps the subconscious overcome deep underlying issues and helps rebalance the body and mind,” Kilawan adds.

What is sleep training?

Talking from a Hypnotherapy perspective, “sleep training is a method that reprograms the brain from a deep subconscious level. This teaches you simple yet effective techniques that will assist in deeper and more peaceful sleep,” Kilawan explains.

Examples of this is leaving your cell phone to charge in another room instead of next to your bedside. This will eliminate you from continuously checking your phone for messages or emails. The process usually consists of three to five sessions with your therapist with two weeks apart. This is because it takes time to unlearn a behaviour and relearn a new behaviour. “On average, sleep therapy is between R700 – R900 per session,” Kilawan says.

Who offers sleep therapy?

The South African Society of Sleep Medicine (SASSM) offers an array of information on sleep centres near you.

Sleep disorders come in many different forms and as a result of a variety of reasons from mental conditions and stress to pregnancy and menstrual associated sleep disorders, having far reaching effects on your daily life.

“We have become so comfortable being sad and depressed that we forget what it feels like to be happy. As soon as we can learn to be happy, we can forget how it feels to be sad and the sooner we do that, the sooner we can go to bed happy and able to rest our bodies the way we intended to and recharge our batteries for a beautiful life,” adds Kilawan.