Insomnia is a common problem, and over-the-counter sleep aids are a billion dollar industry. Everywhere people are trying to get sleep, yet, according to a recent Huffington Post article, no one really understands what sleep is and what its function is supposed to be in our life. Dr. Rubin Naiman, Ph.D. has an interesting (if somewhat controversial) take on sleep theory and how modern day man's views on sleep affect how we actually sleep each night.
The full article is available online at Huffington Post, but below are a few of our favorite excerpts:
"I believe the main reason we struggle with epidemic sleep disorders is our failure to examine fundamental misconceptions that inform our understanding of and approach to sleep. These misconceptions are rooted in a tendency to define sleep negatively -- that is, in terms of what it's not. Like our conception of health, which is generally understood as the absence of disease, we naively conceive of sleep as the absence of waking. When we are asleep, we are "dead to the world" -- to the waking world. Even scientific and medical definitions of sleep cast it in terms of what it's not. Sleep specialists refer to sleep as "non-REM." It's not dreaming."
"From a wake-centric perspective, we have no alternative but to carry waking cognitive and behavioral ways of being into the night. We routinely smuggle information, entertainment, technology, light, food, substances and lots of worry into our bedrooms and beds. The single most critical factor impairing healthy sleep is not, as is commonly believed, that we are insufficiently sleepy at night. It's what sleep science calls hyperarousal -- that we are excessively wakeful.
"Solid empirical evidence suggests that sleeping pills provide no significant improvement in sleep. They essentially mask poor sleep with amnesia. But because we confuse sleep with unconsciousness, we believe that substances and medications that mask waking can legitimately serve as sleep aids. I believe that this is the fundamental error that continues to perpetuate skyrocketing sleeping pill sales."
Read Dr. Naiman's full article online now, or visit his personal website for more information on his theories about integrative sleep.