Usually when people hesitate to take sleeping medication, it’s because they are concerned about the risk of becoming addicted.
But a few years ago a gentleman came to see me in my counseling practice because he was addicted instead to relaxation tapes.
He would go to bed at night and if he didn’t play one of these tapes he would find himself tossing and turning, mind racing, unable to get to sleep until 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning.
This had been happening for years.
There was one recording in particular he listened to the most, but sometimes even that didn’t work, so he would switch to one of the others he had until he found one that got him to sleep again.
He had tried to “get off” the tapes many times, but he had had to accept that this was the way things were for him, and as he said to me, “At least I’m not on any pills.”
It turned out that this had all begun when his wife died. He had had problems sleeping, and had begun to listen to tapes to help him relax and had found them very helpful.
This success was his downfall.
His mind and body began to associate falling asleep with listening to his recordings, to the point where he required them. Each time he tried to stop he was unable to sleep. If he was on medication the technical term would be “rebound insomnia”.
Now all of us have this psychological ability to connect one experience with another.
In fact this is the principle at work when you have a sleep routine. The idea of a sleep routine is to have a unique way of letting your mind and body know that this is the time to go to sleep. The routine could be changing into bed clothes, brushing your teeth, having some warm milk, simply switching out the light and climbing into bed, or a combination of things.
This gentleman had accidentally chosen listening to a relaxing tape.
Whatever your routine is, when you build up a strong association with sleeping, you can rely on it to help you get to sleep each and every night.
Your natural addiction ability is just waiting for you to make it a routine.
-Dr Martin W. Russell