Insomnia

Mental health is not just about talking about your problems in talk therapy. The waking/conscious mind is just the beginning. The ocean of the unconscious mind lies beneath. Meditation is not exactly sleep. One can say that Meditation is the place between the conscious mind and sleep. They are actually different brain waves. There are 3 basic states of consciousness; wakefulness, REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM (NREM).

There are 4 distinct brain waves: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta. Gamma waves (35 Hz and above) are when we are concentrating the most on completing a task, the highest level of wakefulness. Coffee or Adderall XR can take you to Gamma waves. Beta waves (12-35 Hz) you’re awake, alert, and taking care of daily activities. Alpha waves (8-12 Hz) help with rest, relaxation, and creativity. In alpha waves, you’re not that focused and not thinking too hard. Theta waves (4-8 Hz) are light sleep (NREM1 and NREM2). During deep meditation, the brain functions at 4-7 Hz. You are entering the unconscious mind at 4-7 Hz. This is why sleep meditation is needed to help you wind down and go to sleep and not Ambien.  REM sleep occurs between Theta and Delta; this is when most of our dreams occur. REM sleep also plays a key role in memory consolidation, cognition (thinking), and mood regulation. Delta waves (0.5-4 Hz) are deep dreamless sleep, that’s the deepest sleep (NREM3 aka slow-wave sleep SWS). Sleep is divided into 90-minute cycles of REM and NREM sleep; these 90-minute cycles repeat 3-6 times per night. Adults under age 65 should have 7-9 hours of sleep and adults older than 65 should have 6-7 hours of sleep (approximately). Brain waves are measured with an EEG. Psychoactive Chemicals/Medications such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and stimulants can affect brain waves. When your intake of these chemicals is too high, too frequent, or too close to sleep, your sleep-wake balance can be negatively affected. As a result, your consciousness can be negatively affected. National Sleep Foundation, great educational website: https://sleepdisorders.sleepfoundation.org/chapter-1-normal-sleep/stages-of-human-sleep/

Insomnia or the inability to fall asleep has become very common. People are stuck in Gamma or Beta brain waves and find it difficult to settle into a relaxing sleep. People read, get bored, and slowly move to Alpha waves and finally stroll into Theta waves. Some people take Sleepy Time tea (such as Chamomile or Valerian Root) which slightly sedating, allowing one to relax. Some take Ambien, Lunesta, or another benzodiazepine sleep aid which are central nervous system depressants. Some people are addicted or dependent on other central nervous system sedating medications because they’ve been taking them nightly for months or years. Some of these people can become angry when doctors try to taper down their sleeping meds. Some patients are brave, open-minded, and give the taper down regimens a try. Dr. Datta does prescribe controlled substance meds to help you sleep. However, he can prescribe you a taper down regimen as well. He makes sure that you’re not on too much medication and that you’re not becoming addicted to your prescribed meds. As you may have heard, nowadays doctors must practice some discretion in prescribing these controlled substance meds because they can be addictive. Dr. Datta also teaches a sleep meditation that can help you get from the Gamma or Beta waves of your active mind to Theta waves. This helps people who are just trying to fall asleep as well as those who are tapering down on their controlled substance bedtime medications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3060715/

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