How did we arrive at such widespread social acceptance of chemical dependence? Certainly not because sleeping pills provide a fully satisfactory solution to the problem. If given a choice, the great majority of insomniacs would prefer to find a remedy for their condition that does not involve using chemical substances.
A demanding undertaking
Sleep difficulties, like any other health problem, can be treated by addressing its cause or its symptoms. Herbs and pharmaceuticals focus on the symptoms of insomnia. Their goal is to replace the natural process of falling asleep by a chemically-induced slumber that lasts a few hours.
Addressing the cause of insomnia is a much more demanding undertaking, since it requires introspection and personal growth. Contrary to what you might have heard, most people usually have little trouble figuring out why they cannot sleep well.
Analyzing the cause
Leaving aside environmental aspects such as noise or an uncomfortable bed, the most common causes of insomnia are these four:
- An unpleasant job: too boring or too demanding, poor pay, too long hours, high risk of redundancy, an aggressive supervisor, nasty colleagues, professional health risks, excessive stress or fatigue, continuous travel, and so on.
- Financial worries: for instance, excessive debt, poverty, investment losses, imminent mortgage foreclosure, risk of bankruptcy, difficulties to collect from debtors, negative cash flow, or being involved in litigation.
- Family or personal conflicts: spouse with antagonistic values or interests, betrayal, exploitation, or abandonment, dealing with hostility or discrimination, social isolation, or lack of friends who share the same values and interests.
- Health problems: facing heart surgery, awaiting results of critical tests, getting old, suffering from debilitating illness, cancer, or invalidity, extreme overweight or underweight, and any other serious medical condition.
At any given time, most of us will be going through one or several of the above-mentioned situations. Since problems tend to succeed each other at an amazing speed, one will never lack excuses to resort to sleeping pills. Nevertheless, in each case, we will be much better off by using philosophy to achieve serenity, a subject that I am going to address in my next post.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
Image by iowa_spirit_walker under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us