Psychophysiological insomnia is a term from sleep medicine. This is one of the most common forms of chronic insomnia that is not caused by any other physical or mental illness. Rather, the disease model assumes that the disorder originated as a response to earlier stress and has become independent.
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The problem is often compounded by misconduct that interferes with sleep. Therefore sleep medicine also speak of a learned or conditioned sleep disorder.
Typical symptoms are:
- Difficulty falling asleep,
- a reduced sense of recovery in the morning,
- a reduced efficiency during the day,
- lack of concentration,
- sometimes also a slight irritability
- up to increased anxiety.
Daytime sleepiness may be normal or elevated.
Stress hormones are up to mischief
Whether anger, fears, feelings of depression, worry or unresolved conflicts - everything that makes life difficult, favored this type of sleep disorder.
As studies in the sleep lab show, it comes in addition to the delayed sleep also to increased light sleep and reduced deep sleep. In addition, an increased release of stress hormones was found. It is an expression of increased arousal (arousal reaction), with which the affected person reacts to external or internal stress.
The increased excitability is noticeable on three levels:
- First, by palpitations, sweating, tremors and physical restlessness.
- Second, mental anxiety and inner tension.
- And thirdly, because of the lack of shutdown and constant circling around a single topic: How is my sleep that night? Falling asleep is the more difficult, the more it is desired. In monotonous situations, however, it often works (unintentionally) without any problems.
Sleeping pills only as an acute problem solver
An important role in this form of insomnia play problems in dealing with stress and other stresses. This is also a starting point for behavioral therapy. To "really want to sleep," the vicious circle and "thereby certainly can not sleep" to interrupt, even sleeping pills can be useful - but only for a limited time.
Translated into German, psychophysiologically means "psychic-physical". This points to the close links between body and soul, which come to bear during healthy and disturbed sleeping - and not only there, but almost everywhere in our organism. Unfortunately, in other areas of medicine one is still miles away from this level of knowledge ...
Author: Dr. Hubertus Glaser