CHANGING THE WAY WE TALK ABOUT INSOMNIA

“I can’t sleep.” What does that really mean? We use the phrase to describe insomnia, but one sleep specialist argues that the phrase does more harm than good. Dr. Christopher Winter assures us that everyone, in fact, does sleep. Whether that sleep is satisfying, or in sufficient amounts, depends upon the person. But every person does sleep. So why do we rely on that phrase, and why is Dr. Winter so against it?

According to him, thinking that you can’t sleep actually leads to more instances of insomnia. And insomnia costs money – the National Sleep Foundation calculated the costs of insomnia, including missed work, property damage from accidents, and transportation to and from healthcare providers adds up to over $28 billion each year.  Winter says that physicians must shoulder their portion of the responsibility. Just because a patient asks for sleep aids doesn’t mean the doctor has to prescribe them. Winter argues that physicians need to tackle the cause of insomnia, and not just treat the symptom.  By treating the problem as a whole, we’re more likely to come up with a solution that works. And that would lead to better sleep for everyone.

Image Credit: Alyssa L. Miller