Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or returning to sleep. It is normal be awake at night from time to time due to something worrying or exciting in our lives, but when this happens weekly or even nightly it is a sleep disorder. It is estimated that up to 25 per cent of the population suffer from insomnia at some stage of their lives, and about 10 per cent have chronic insomnia.

A common symptom is being “dog tired” going to sleep then awake an hour later … awake awake … When people develop poor sleep patterns they start to anticipate that their sleep will be broken, the expectation soon becomes self- fulfilling they often label themselves as “the person the wakes up every 2 hrs”

Other problems are sleep obsession! People who go to bed needing TOTAL black–out, the feng shui must be just right (more stress!), or some chemical assistance, fans, ocean music, a total noise blackout from the rest of the family by 9:30pm or 10pm at the latest! and the final surrender into the helpless state —- going to bed hoping …. praying … you don’t wake till that alarm …. or else you probably won’t get back to sleep!!! Unfortunately, nearly everyone over a certain age wakes at least once or twice a night and this last bit of desperation really spells failure – every night???

Drugs and sleeping pills are often turned to but the problem here is that drug can get you to sleep and lower the threshold of awakening but they prevent getting quality sleep, or more often people become dependent on this chemical assistance and now there is always a pay-back somewhere … people dependent on drugs for sleep end up that they can’t sleep without them but don’t sleep consistently well with them. They might have 2 good nights out of 5 and yet another vicious circle to battle.

People who have insomnia often crave sleep often spending eight to ten hours at a stretch in bed. There is no evidence that sleep is about time … in fact a US study of over one million people in 2002, (Dr Kripke) found that people who sleep longer than 8 hours die at a younger age than those who sleep less. Sleep is ALL about quality … the classic symptoms of people with sleep apnoea is that they can sleep all night but are tired and sleepy during the day.

While not as obvious as it is with snoring, an unconscious over-breathing habit is common in people who suffer from insomnia. It is there contributing to a hyper-arousal state that prevents sleep. Over-breathing excites your brain and makes muscles tense. Your adrenal glands pump out the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. None of this is conducive to sleep.

Normal breathing at rest is gentle and nasal and pretty quiet, retraining you breathing teaches people how to “change back” the automatic breathing mechanism, so that your automatic all-the-time breathing comes back closer to normal – day or night awake or asleep.


Brian Firth, B.Sc. Melb, Dip Ed
Sec Buteyko Institute of Breathing & Health


Buteyko Health, 273 Riding Rd
Balmoral Qld 4171 Australia 


Phone: 0413 482 765
Int: +61413 482 765


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