Insomnia suggestions

By Jocelyne Leyton, D.O.M.P.

As part of the team at KIHC, I volunteered to be one of the contributors for the December Newsletter on Insomnia. Little did I know that I would suffer from insomnia in the last two weeks. In my life I have had little difficulty in sleeping with the exception of emotional stress.

In my work as an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner I hear complaints from many patients about insomnia as well as from children. Most of us commonly experience sleep disturbance due to stress and environmental changes but when it becomes chronic this becomes a health burden. For some people, pharmaceutical intervention is sought and for others non-prescription supplements, mind-body relaxation techniques and sometimes alcohol.

One dictionary definition says insomnia is a chronic inability to fall asleep or to enjoy uninterrupted sleep. Our sleep/wake cycle is influenced by our biological clock called the circadian rhythm. This circadian rhythm affects our physiological process. Our circadian rhythm tends to be synchronized with cycles of light and dark as well as factors such as temperature, meal-time, stress and exercise. The primary circadian clock in mammals is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), located in the hypothalamus. The SCN takes the information on the lengths of the day and night from the retina of the eyes, interprets it, and passes it on to the pineal gland. This is important because the pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin. Secretion of melatonin peaks at night and ebbs during the day. Melatonin onset in dim light is about 9:00pm.

Of great interest to me is that independent circadian rhythms are found in many organs and cells of the body such as the esophagus, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, thymus and the skin.
Therefore, osteopathic assessment of these organs to determine which organ is not functioning can have a positive measurable effect on circadian rhythm as well as treating the hypothalamus and pineal gland.

Practical suggestions to enhance sleep: Meditation with time empties the mind and calms the body, mindful movements before bed, reading soothing literature, listening to peaceful music, sleep in rooms without light, warm milk with honey, receive a massage.

Activities to avoid: Stimulation from computer games and technological devices including TV programs before bed including the News, and family arguments.

When you wake in the night and cannot sleep I suggest lying very still and observe your body sensation by systematically scanning your body from head to toe or toe to head. This will buy you rest for the next day. Lying still and returning your attention when your mind wanders to your breath at your nostrils or the space between your eyebrows. Visualize a comforting place with detail and stay there.

Now that this article has come to a close – may I sleep well and may you sleep well.