New evidenced based medicine is perhaps closing in on an answer to the age-old question of what is insomnia, what may the source of it's causes and new non-drug approaches in treating it effectively.
In a recent study by researchers Barbara Hammer, PhD, Agatha P. Colbert, MD and others, entitled: "A Pilot Study of Z-Score Sensorimotor & Individualized Neurofeedback", it was found that hyper-arousal within the sensory motor cortex may hold clues to insomnia as being less of a psychological condition and more of the central nervous system's equivalent of an on-going neurological power surge.
Some troubling statistics written into the study include: "Beyond the individual burden resulting from insomnia, the burden on society is huge, in terms of direct treatment costs, indirect costs, workplace productivity, quality of life, and personal relationships. The additional cost for health care services sought by people with insomnia is estimated to be $3-$14 billion annually. The indirect costs to the economy in terms of lost productivity and higher accident rates is estimated at $80 billion annually."
Current treatments widely available include sedative hypnotics like Ambien and Lunesta, and, more recently an anti-psychotic marketed under the brand name Seroquel. None of these medications address the bio-electrical aspects thought to be involved in insomnia.
The researchers site another study that:
"A recent literature review of Cortoos, et al, (5) regarding use of the
latest technology in neuroimaging and neurofeedback ""suggests that a
state of hyperarousal with a biological basis is the underlying cause of
insomnia". and a focus on cortical or central nervous system (CNS)
arousal should be pursued."
Sadly, due to the pharmaceutical lobby and market forces, much of this research is simply ignored and never sees the light of day within mainstream media. A recent ABC World News report with Diane Sawyer showcased research using a form of sleep deprivation as a means to treat sleep deprivation! The interviewee, Michael Perlis, PhD is quoted a saying: "It's [sleep dep-therapy] a lot like water-boarding, but an exciting idea". One can imagine the million or so viewers asking themselves, "Wait. What? Am I dreaming this?
It seems a very fair question to ask.