You drink a bottle of vodka every day, and wake with a ferocious hangover.
But at least you slept.
Maybe badly, but for a time there was release from the cage of a mind that spins relentlessly through the night.
Silence is not your friend. Nor the small numbers on the clock that mock your thrashing and twisted bed sheets. If it were only one or two nights that sleep eluded you, you could recover so easily – but two nights turns into four, four turns into seven, and seven into a lost count as you begin to unravel and lose your bearings.
Nausea from fatigue, paranoia, panic attacks, extreme forgetfulness, and hallucinations begin to take over. Your words no longer make sense, and others begin to question your sanity. Work productivity? Please.
This is the painful experience of Nicky Woolf, who writes:1
“By the time I turned 18, I worked out at one point, I had spent the equivalent of two years in solitary confinement, alone and awake in the dark, locked in silent battle with my brain. I know my mind inside out the way a prisoner knows his cell, every blemish and scratch… Every thought I’ve ever had has churned in my mind a billion times, repeating into meaninglessness. I’ve seen madness in those nights alone.
I think that’s why the idea of meditation has never attracted me. In fact, I have a near-pathological aversion to silence and boredom. The way I figure it, I have already spent enough of my life in forced introspection: I want no more of it than I have to endure. So I fill every second of my day with mental activity: listening to podcasts, conversation, reading, work, television, going out, Twitter. It’s that my brain must always be occupied, because silence is the preserve of the sleepless night. Silence is where the madness waits.”
This madness, this intense struggle with the mind in an attempt to let down and sleep has between 50-70 million people in the US alone in its tortured grip.2 You may not reach 11 days and “completely unspool” the way Woolf has, but the profound lack of sleep, the desperate fatigue, and the even more desperate need for the relief of true sleep is all too common nowadays.
Woolf goes on to say: “Finally, I began to see a specialist… who understood the problem and started trying me out with some real options for medication — which, at that point, probably saved my life.”3
The disturbing truth is that not everyone finds their way to the help they need. In recent years, insomnia has gained more attention as a stand-alone predictor of suicide, i.e., it is not necessarily linked to substance or alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorder. A person simply becomes so exhausted, so overwhelmed with their own exhaustion and lack of internal resources to deal with the issue and with life itself – that suicide can feel like the only solution.
Insomnia and Suicide
Every 40 seconds, a household somewhere in the world will face a horrific knock on the door, or pick up a dreadful phone call. Nearly 800,000 people committed suicide in 2015,4 with 40,000 occurring in the US alone.5 It is the second leading cause of death for 15-29 year-olds, and worse, there are many more unsuccessful attempts.6
And the numbers are rising.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that between 1999-2016, virtually every state in America saw increases in suicide.7
Those at particular risk include people struggling with low income, drug dependence issues, and/or mental disorders. In addition, women and those between the ages of 25-44 are considered high-risk groups.8
Currently, there are very few studies which focus on insomnia as a stand-alone issue, though thankfully that is beginning to change. One of the few studies that recently came out was published in Nature and Science of Sleep,9 and found that “46% of adult suicide-attempt survivors reported global insomnia (complete lack of sleep) symptoms and 92% reported difficulties with either initial, middle, or terminal insomnia (when a person has difficulty falling asleep at the beginning, middle, or end of the night/sleep period, respectively).”
Given the staggering number of people suffering from insomnia, and the potentially devastating and extreme consequences, what kind of treatment options exist? And is there anything new on the horizon that may benefit all categories of people, whether they are struggling with insomnia by itself, or insomnia coupled with depression, anxiety, or any other issue?
Allopathic Treatments for Insomnia
In diagnosing insomnia – and the severity and type of insomnia – a doctor may perform a sleep habits review in order to better understand the issues presenting, and may or may not engage a sleep study done at a clinic. Further, a person suffering insomnia must first be treated for any simultaneously occurring issues, like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, grief and loss – or any other mental or emotional issue. If he or she is taking other medications, this will be reviewed in light of their lack of sleep to determine if those medications are playing a role.
Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I):10
This is the examination of negative thoughts, beliefs, and actions that may be keeping someone awake at night, especially as it relates to a pattern of increasing worry or frustration that one cannot fall asleep. The therapy is to understand, recognize, and then change those limiting or self-defeating actions.
Other strategies included in CBT-I include stimulus control, which “helps remove factors that condition your mind to resist sleep” (such as napping, or eating a full meal right before bedtime); relaxation techniques and guided imagery such as biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation; and sleep restriction therapy, which initially disallows sleep in order to make the person even more tired so they may sleep better the following night.
Finally, as a last resort, pharmaceutical drugs may be introduced to help a person fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. Typically, doctors do not recommend relying on sleeping pills for any extended period of time, as they can cause grogginess the following day, increased risk of falling down and accidents, and they can be habit forming.[Ibid.]
Medications currently prescribed for insomnia include (but are not limited to) the following drugs:[ Ibid.]
•Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist)
Over time, these drugs can lose their effectiveness – that is, we build up a tolerance to them. It may be tempting to take higher doses, or extend the number of nights the drug is used, however there can be serious consequences for long term use and/or addiction.
Lunesta, for example, is a beautiful and inviting name, however “psychological problems can develop with long-term use of Lunesta. Depression can get worse, suicidal thoughts may form, and anxiety or neurosis may be present. With very long-term abuse, the drug can cause hallucinations and paranoia.”13
It is a twisted irony indeed, that the very drug one might turn to in extreme insomnia could cause the very thing one is trying to avoid (hallucinations and suicidal thoughts).
Complimentary and Alternative Treatments
People often turn to more natural substances when they first begin to have difficulties sleeping. The following are the most common products used:14,15
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It regulates normal sleeping/waking cycles (circadian rhythms), thus it gradually rises towards evening, cresting around bedtime, and then diminishes towards morning when we rise for the day. Melatonin has been hailed as being particularly helpful for those experiencing jet lag or those who are shift workers and need to sleep during the day, yet, while considered “promising,”16 the evidence suggests that “for the initiation of sleep and sleep efficacy, the data cannot yet confirm a positive benefit.”17 Further, another study claimed, “the effects of melatonin on sleep are modest but do not appear to dissipate with continued melatonin use.”18
Modest results may very well be better than nothing when one can’t sleep, so overall, it is still a go-to product (at least to try it out), as it has not been determined to be harmful by the FDA, nor is it a habit forming substance to which one can become addicted. However, some people have claimed that melatonin caused depression, therefore it may not be suitable for all populations.19
Valerian root is an herb native to both Europe and Asia, with a long history of being used for sleep disorders, anxiety, and menopausal issues.20 While the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database21 states there is little scientific evidence for its effectiveness in treating insomnia, the Journal of Psychopharmacology states there is evidence to support the possibility that valerian simply takes longer to take effect – in fact – a matter of weeks, not hours22While this makes it unsuitable for short term insomnia, it may prove helpful for those suffering chronic sleep disorders. As with melatonin, there are minimal side effects and valerian root is not habit forming, thus, it often tends to fall into the category of “try it to see if it works for you.”
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is thought to cause drowsiness. The Journal of Psychiatric Research states that it may work very well for mild insomnia, but that it has shown mixed results in those with severe insomnia.23
5-HTP is one of the building blocks for L-tryptophan. While it has gained attention in recent years as being effective for depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, menstrual pains, migraines and more, there is an uncertain health risk that may be related to taking this supplement, especially long term. According to WebMD: “…some people who have taken it have developed a condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a serious condition involving extreme muscle tenderness (myalgia) and blood abnormalities (eosinophilia).”24
L-threonine is one of the main amino acids in tea. In a study published in Nutrients,25 it was found that low-caffeine green tea “significantly improved sleep quality and reduced subjective fatigue on Monday morning.” While this is encouraging, the study was aimed at investigating the reduction of stress and the population tested were not those suffering. There is not a lot of information on the effects of L-threonine, but one study published by the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology states: “L-threonine both displayed a poor response in reducing sleep latency and increasing total sleep time, however L-threonine did produce an increase in sleep efficiency.”26 What this means is that, while L-threonine didn’t help the study participants fall asleep any faster or stay asleep any longer, it did help with overall sleep time.
Aromatherapy: Lavender, Melissa, Chamomile, Ylang Ylang
Aromatherapy is the practice of inhaling the scent of various essential oils (extracts of herbs and flowers long known to induce calmness and relaxation) for a medicinal effect. As the molecules of the oil are breathed in, there is a direct connection between the olfactory system (nasal passageways) and the brain, and in particular, the amygdala. The amygdala is a small body within the brain which has a role in governing our emotions, particularly emotional memories which are traumatic.27 Aromatherapy may be of benefit for someone who’s brain is running the hamster wheel late at night, and is struggling to relax and to find calm. It is also important to mention that the essential oil industry has no regulatory body – that is, there are very cheap oils on the market today that may just give you a headache, or worse – an allergic reaction – instead of promoting a soothing, calming response.
The Trivedi Effect®
If you suffer from insomnia, especially if you have hit the point where you question life and living itself, you have probably tried everything listed in the above treatment categories – and maybe even more. You may very well be at the point where the silence deep in the dark, dark night feels like the enemy, where the mind feels like a cage from which you cannot escape.
Yet, what if all of the searching for answers at the psychological and physiological levels, i.e. the level of mind and body, falls short because the problem simply does not originate in either place? Could the issues presenting at the mind/body level be symptoms of a deeper problem?
What if insomnia, especially suicidal insomnia, is a crisis related to the disconnection from one’s own spirit? A crisis related to consciousness itself?
A spiritual teacher beloved by many, Guruji Mahendra Trivedi, states that mind and body together comprise less than 1% of the totality that is a human being, and that spirit makes up the fullness of who we are. It is the original 99%.
If we are disconnected from that fullness of being which is our true nature, our original blueprint, we are cut off from our very Source.
Not completely, for there would be no life at all if that were the case. But to be exhausted beyond one’s capacity is to live on crumbs, or fumes from an empty tank. It means grasping for the smallest relief one can find at the relatively tiny physical level.
Conversely, Life Force Energy is the full-river-vitality that imbues all of nature. It flows directly from a higher source through nature – and through us as well if we can connect more deeply to it.
And this is where the story of Guruji Mahendra Trivedi comes in.
Born a gifted child, Mahendra Trivedi grew to be a successful business man. One fateful night, he entered a super-conscious state during which The Divine let him know he was now to use his miraculous gifts for the benefit of humanity.
What are these gifts?
The ability to harness and transmit the Life Force inherent in nature, to anyone, anywhere in the world through thought intention alone. It may sound fantastical, yet there are over 4,000 research experiments which have been conducted on his abilities. The spectacular results of these experiments have continued to astound scientists worldwide, and have been published in over 350 peer-reviewed journals and can be found in the libraries of leading universities around the world.
Miraculously, it has been scientifically documented on numerous occasions that Mahendra Trivedi is able to change not only life at the cellular level, but the very structure of the atom itself.
What does this mean for those who are suffering from insomnia?
It means there is a new holistic paradigm on the horizon merging the world of science with the world of spirituality. It means that receiving Life Force Energy has the potential to transform us from the atomic and cellular levels upward – at every level of being. It means that Divine Grace can uplift our consciousness and heal, deepen, and strengthen our very connection with our Source, with Nature, and our bond with Life itself.
If you have sought answers everywhere, and struggled to manage sleepless night after sleepless night, consider this old story:
There once was a man who lost his key at night, and was searching desperately within the halo of a street lamp.
A stranger happened by and asked him what he was doing.
“Looking for my key,” the man responded.
“Where did you lose it?” asked the stranger.
“Over there,” said the man, pointing far off into the darkness.
“So why are you looking here?” asked the stranger.
“Well,” said the man, “It’s safer here and the light is good.”
Perhaps silence is not the enemy after all. Perhaps the real issue is disconnection. Perhaps the real issue is that our consciousness itself needs upliftment in order for the body/mind to stabilize and regain its natural rhythm. In the end, perhaps what we most deeply, desperately need in the darkest of dark nights is to rediscover the light of our true and original God-given blueprint.
2National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health, Sleep and Sleep Disorders, February 22, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html.
4 Lin, H.-T., Lai, C.-H., Perng, H.-J., Chung, C.-H., Wang, C.-C., Chen, W.-L., & Chien, W.-C. (2018). Insomnia as an independent predictor of suicide attempts: a nationwide population-based retrospective cohort study. BMC Psychiatry, 18, 117. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1702-2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930777/
6 Lin, H.-T., Lai, C.-H., Perng, H.-J., Chung, C.-H., Wang, C.-C., Chen, W.-L., & Chien, W.-C. (2018). Insomnia as an independent predictor of suicide attempts: a nationwide population-based retrospective cohort study. BMC Psychiatry, 18, 117. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1702-2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930777/
8 Lin, H.-T., Lai, C.-H., Perng, H.-J., Chung, C.-H., Wang, C.-C., Chen, W.-L., & Chien, W.-C. (2018). Insomnia as an independent predictor of suicide attempts: a nationwide population-based retrospective cohort study. BMC Psychiatry, 18, 117. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1702-2
9 Drapeau, C. W., & Nadorff, M. R. (2017). Suicidality in sleep disorders: prevalence, impact, and management strategies. Nature and Science of Sleep, 9, 213–226. http://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S125597
16 Costello, R. B., Lentino, C. V., Boyd, C. C., O’Connell, M. L., Crawford, C. C., Sprengel, M. L., & Deuster, P. A. (2014). The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature. Nutrition Journal, 13, 106. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-106
18 Ferracioli-Oda, E., Qawasmi, A., & Bloch, M. H. (2013). Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e63773. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0063773
25 Unno, K., Noda, S., Kawasaki, Y., Yamada, H., Morita, A., Iguchi, K., & Nakamura, Y. (2017). Reduced Stress and Improved Sleep Quality Caused by Green Tea Are Associated with a Reduced Caffeine Content. Nutrients, 9(7), 777. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu9070777