I think I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that I have been having insomnia problems. I have even consulted a sleep specialist. Imagine my surprise when I walked out of her office with a prescription for a book called Say Good Night to Insomnia; The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program  by Gregg D. Jacobs.

I’ve learned some really interesting things. Sleeping pills only work for a short duration of time. The body acclimates to the drug and after-a-while, it stops working. We think it continues to work because of the placebo effect, i.e. we believe it works therefore it does.  I have also found out that most insomniacs are getting a lot more sleep than they believe they are. I had to track my sleep amount for a week and I was surprised to see that in spite of my ups and downs at night, I was still averaging 6 ½ to 7 hours of sleep a night. I found out you need less sleep total as you get older and that one of the reasons people fall asleep during the day is to get more of the deep sleep that we need. The sleep cycle is not one cycle at night but several sleep cycles that repeat during the night.

What I want to report to you today is the real effects of sleep loss and that needing at least eight hours of sleep per night is not necessary. Regardless of what is reported in the media, there is no consistent scientific evidence that insomnia causes significant health problems. Many sleep researchers believe that we have a remarkable tolerance for temporary sleep loss. There seems to be no adverse effects on daytime performance after a poor night’s sleep. However, this does not carry over for monotonous or sedentary tasks such as driving or paying attention at conferences or meetings. In fact, a recent study showed that many car accidents are due to the driver falling asleep at the wheel.  But it is felt that sleeplessness may have little effect on us other than making us feel very sleepy. Sleep loss does not invariably produce serious consequences. According to this book, there is considerable evidence suggesting that, for most individuals, performance on alertness, memory, and problem-solving tasks can be maintained for extended periods of time with about 70 % of normal sleep or about five and a half hours for an eight-hour sleeper.

I would really like to recommend this book to all of you problem sleepers. The information presented is very different from what we believe about sleep problems and just knowing that is helping me sleep better.