Posted on 7th September 2019

One of the most common subjects to come up on the group is complaints of insomnia and too little sleep when in withdrawal. It’s useful to know what’s happening in the brain as you sleep and why this is affected when you’re withdrawing from Benzos and also why no other drugs or supplements should be added at this time. It’s controversial but everyone wants to heal as quickly as possible so allowing the brain to do this is the main objective....

Sleep can be divided into two broad stages, non-rapid eye movement (NREM), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The vast majority of our sleep (around 75 to 80 per cent) is NREM, characterised by electrical patterns in the brain known as ‘sleep spindles’ and high, slow delta waves. This is the time we sleep the deepest.

There are five stages to sleep....

Doctor Diana L. Walcutt has outlined the five stages of sleep.......

The stages are determined by the brain waves that are active during each phase. This refers to the waves you’d see in an EEG or electro encephala graph. The five stages are:

Stage One. The brain goes through the Alpha and Theta waves. These waves can happen even during the day, during a period we often refer to as ‘day-dreaming’. You can even practice the alpha waves during meditation. Slowly, you’ll start drifting towards theta, which is just a short period before we fall asleep.

Stage Two. The second stage sees our brains produce rapid, short waves called sleep spindles. The body temperature drops and heart rate slows down.

Stage Three. During stage three, your brain is creating deep and slow waves called delta waves. This is the transitional period of moving from light sleep to deep sleep.

Stage Four. In the fourth sleep, you enter delta sleep. This is deep sleep and referred to as the slow wave sleep.

Stage Five: REM. Finally, you have our friend REM sleep. Your voluntary muscles are actually paralyzed during this time, yet your brain is busy producing dreams.

Sadly when Benzos have been used for sleep this pattern is interfered with and needs to be reestablished for normal sleep to return. The only way this can happen is not to interfere further and let sleep come back naturally as it will eventually.

I do understand how hard this as lying awake night after night we do begin to despair and of course symptoms are worsened during the day. I think resting is important as well and sometimes just listening to music helps or even to white noise. I believe there are white noise machines which can be used beside your bed. Focussing away from not being able to sleep is the main objective so the brain can switch off.

In the worst case scenarios people try antihistamines, melatonin, theanine or other supplements supposed to encourage sleep. I feel there’s nothing wrong in taking these on an occasional basis if you can tolerate them but be aware that these also can become addictive as the brain adapts to their use and sleep patterns are altered. As recovery continues a normal sleep pattern will return.

Again everybody is totally different in this and in what they find helps them. It’s an important area in not to be prescriptive because what helps one may set back another as we well know. The natural sleep that eventually returns is refreshing and restorative and quite unlike any drug induced sleep and makes us aware of what we’ve been missing! ❤️

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