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Lying among tousled sheets, eluded by sleep with thoughts racing, many people wrestle with the nightly demon named insomnia. Insomnia is defined as, "the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of one or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or unrefreshing sleep" (Rajput 1431). Because the definition of "poor-quality sleep" is not the same for every person, it is not easy to determine the frequency and severity of it's occurrence (Holbrook 216). To add to the complexity of this problem, there is not even one universal treatment that can be used effectively in all cases. Many effective treatments have been discovered, but there is no "cure-all." The two most popularly used treatment methods are pharmocological treatment and behavioral-cognitive treatment . Each of these treatments has its pros and cons and is recommended for different types of patients.

Although taking a pill every day would appear to be the simplest way of overcoming insomnia, it is, "at best a temporary solution," and in recent years, use of drugs as a treatment has declined rapidly. Medical records show that the yearly number of prescriptions for sleeping pills peaked in 1972 and were cut in half by 1982. The reason for this decline is that a large amount of cases, insomnia has been proven to be a "symptom of an underlying . . . problem (Sweeney 231)." Drugs can be a good solution for a short period of time, but their long term use is discouraged, because a tolerance can develop after four weeks of regular use (Espie (?) 115-116).

There are three main types of drugs used for treatment--benzod...

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...essive relaxation, autogenic training, and meditation. Progressive relaxation is a "sequential tensing and relaxing of the main muscle groups" (Espie 107). This causes a decrease in muscle activity, blood pressure, and heart rate. Another form of relaxation is autogegnic training, where the patient rehearses simple phrases referring to warmth or heaviness of the legs and arms. In this technique the person is instructing their body to respond as if they are in a low state of physiological arousal. (Espie 110).

Insomnia in itself is a very frustration and complex condition, and sorting through the possible treatments can be an additional frustration. Since there are so few specially trained sleep specialists, many doctors will go initially with drug treatments as an "easy way out," but as I found out, the easy way is not necessarily the best way for every patient.
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