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  1. What is insomnia?

    Ok, so first off let's start off with what you might think is the most basic and easiest question to answer, what is insomnia? 

    Well, of course, it’s, an inability to sleep, but let's see how this question and the scientific and medical understanding around this subject has developed. 


    There are many definitions of insomnia on the web as well as sources dating back to the 1600’s as to its first use.  Related words are Agrypnotic and agrupnos meaning wakeful from the pursuit of sleep. 

    For a definition go to

    Full definition and criteria are found here DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria for Primary Insomnia

    Ok well, those are sources of definitions of the words but what are the medical and scientific understandings in more detail.

    Now let’s get a bit more Scientific 

    Why is the science relevant to our understanding of insomnia? Well, the science is important because science can go a long way to treating and helping us live with and understand our insomnia. It’s not the only source of information, understanding or treatment but is an important part.

    Some scientific history of diagnosis: 

    In the 1980’s insomnia was defined as a symptom of but not a primary disorder. A symptom of other disorders such as depression or other mental or physical primary disorder. 

    The treatment for this was to either focus on the primary disorder and hope that insomnia will sort itself out by sorting out the main confusion or to ignore insomnia as of no major concern or if treated use hypnotics as a short-term treatment.

    Chronic insomnia was defined as occurring only as part of another psychological or physical illness. 

    Author's side note: this probably goes some way to  explaining why as we grew up and as an when we talked about or heard others talk about the fact they can't sleep or we have insomnia the usual response was “why what's on your mind?” or “you must be depressed” and so on. If the doctors, psychologists and scientist were thinking along these lines back then-then it would no doubt filter down into society through the media.

    Around about 2005 this viewpoint and understanding within the scientific community changed somewhat (I have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but as this is becoming part of what is hoped to be a continuing series it's worth going back over). 

    In 2005, insomnia changed from being classed as a symptom to being classed as a disorder in its own right. It was seen to be typically combined with other disorders or illnesses, but this is a necessary change in classification. 

    It was now acknowledged that chronic insomnia did indeed exist and it in itself should be treated. Whether seen in conjunction with another disorder or not. 

    Author’s side note: this should have been a sigh of relief for those of us who have lived with insomnia for some years and had become convinced that there must be something psychologically or physiologically wrong with us other thaninsomnia because well society was telling us so. I remember many a time thinking “well I don’t feel depressed or ill but Imust be, everyone keeps telling me so, maybe I just can't see it”.  As insomniacs, we all know how the internal dialogue of “why can’t I sleep?” or “I hope I can get some sleep tonight” becomes the thing that will keep us awake in a vicious spiralling circle.

    Treatment was from that point on, in 2005, focused on both insomnia and the illness or disorder itself. Often finding that treating insomnia helped treat the illness or disorder.

    In 2014, DSM-IV-TR stated used to diagnose insomnia said it is that the predominant complaint is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or nonrestorative sleep, for at least 1 month. 

    This is important because now not only does it become a disorder in its own right but it has the criteria for diagnosis. This is not "important” in the understanding of the word so that you can tell everyone you have the diagnosable disorder, but more importantly, so you have it taken seriously by your doctor and treatment be found. 

    It also means that we can get away from the endless nights of self-pity and torment about why we have insomnia and what can it mean and means we can move to say “I have insomnia how am I going to live with it?”. At, we believe acceptance is crucial. Once you accept insomnia as part of your life, you go from suffering from insomnia to living with insomnia, this is a fundamental change in mindset. 

    So now we have some understanding of diagnosing insomnia and its meaning in our next blog we will look into the Cause and Effect of Insomnia.

    In fact, lets, in the future we will look a little deeper into what insomnia is and where this relatively new phenomenon came from.

  2. Well, isn’t it obvious? 

    Looking into Insomnia; from a psychosocial, scientific and artistic viewpoint  

    This series of articles “Looking into Insomnia” aims to look at insomnia from varying perspectives such as scientific, psychological and sociological, creative and artistic, humanistic, meditative and mindful point of view as well as humouristic and maybe even a theological and philosophical viewpoint. 


    Ok, that’s a lot. What does it mean and why would it be of interest? 

    Well, it’s of interest to me for a couple of reasons. I am a certified practitioner of neurolinguistics, as well as a student of the psychology and sociology and my postgrad was is data-driven marketing and communication. Most import of all though, in building my credability with you is my lived experience. I have lived with insomnia for the best part of 42 years of my life (note I chose the wording “live with” and not “suffer from” this is an important point that I will come back to later on). As a practitioner and student of the arts and social sciences I have long been intrigued as to why professionals, scientist, and psychologists, experts in the field of insomnia chose to focus purely on one or two areas, usually their own areas of specialism and do not look at the wider picture, why do they not try and join the dots. Possibly because that’s what they have built their thesis, doctorate and career on and steering away from it seems counterproductive. Or simply it's because, like most of us, when you are so focused on one area you can't see the wood for the trees. 

    For years, I have seen connections and dots and wondered why others (namely those writing the books and the blogs) haven’t, why they haven’t joined them together. So, I want to know what's going on. I want to look at all the evidence and interrogate it. I want to pick up the rocks shine a torch under them and see what's going on. 

    What I would also like to do, through my training in data-driven and digital marketing and communications is to expand up on and explain how elements like social media are affecting us, subconsciously. How they are utilised, by marketers like me, to elicit a behaviour by influencing our emotions which affect our physiology, well-being and in our case our ability to sleep. 

    Why do neuroscientist not take into consideration the sociological aspects and vice verse, why do psychologists focus on psychoanalysis or cognitive behavioural therapy over drugs and physiologists focus on the physical whilst ignoring the psychological and physiological benefits of herbal medicines or mindfulness and meditation practices, and what about the creative art studies and artistic endeavours to express and explain the issues around insomnia. Yet advertisers utilise all of it when attacking our subconcious. Now I know those are sweeping statements and not all practitioners ignore the practices of other scientific or nonscientific practices. But a lot and in my experience (and I have done a lot of research in the those 42 years) most focus on their own area only, on their own area of specialism as if it is their chance to stake their claim on the discussion, make their mark and make a name for themselves in their chosen profession. And whilst there is nothing wrong with this per say, we all need to make a living, I would argue that perhaps it means we are missing some obvious answers. And no doubt so am I.

    So, over the course of the next few months I am planning (and all good plans etc etc) to write a series of articles looking at a psychosocial and neurolinguistics study of insomnia but with a consideration of the current hard science and social science viewpoints of insomnia from a neurological,  physiological and psychological perspective as well as bring in thoughts and considerations from NLP, sociology, as well as the arts and humanities and everything else I witter on about above. Trying to bring this all together to see how the world we live in is affecting our ability to sleep and what we can do about it. 

    This is all going to be in layman's non-academic language because, well quite frankly, I am a layman, a blog writer/marketing technologist and amateur social science researcher but not a real scientist or academic. 

    The reason I am doing all this study is that I love to learn but also I like to look at the world from as many different viewpoints as possible in order to see a deeper picture. This is, for me, the best way to apply critical thinking and in making sense of the world. 

    One of the complaints I read about the social science and hard science journals and academic books is that they do a great job of discussing world issues and theories between themselves between academic to academic, but do a not so good job of relaying this information back to the general public, out of their network of discussion.  I am not sure I am going to necessarily do a good job of it, that will be judged by the reader, but I will do my best.

    My plan is to look at studies or discussions in insomnia and break them down in order to understand them, question them and hopefully join up some of the dots between them.

    So, let us get started. 


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