Drs. Krag and Grosswald answer questions on reducing insomnia.
Q: I tend to awaken in the middle of the night. Sometimes I'm sweating or feeling very agitated. Will practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique help me sleep through the night?
Dr. Krag: There are many reasons for insomnia, but the most frequent cause is anxiety and stress. Of course, it is possible that some practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique can occasionally have the problem of insomnia. However, since the TM technique helps lessen stress, most people with insomnia who learn the Transcendental Meditation program find that it becomes less and less of a problem.
Q: If I sit in a chair and close my eyes, I fall asleep immediately. What good would TM do me?
Dr. Krag: This is simply an indication that you are in need of rest and likely have a "sleep debt." The Transcendental Meditation technique provides a profound level of rest and over time it will assist you in "paying off" the "sleep debt," leaving you feeling more clear and more energetic during the day.
Q: What about stress due to sleep deprivation? I almost never get a good night's sleep. Does the Transcendental Meditation technique help with that?
Dr. Grosswald: It's interesting that you should ask, because research shows that Americans are the most sleep deprived people in the world. The stress of not sleeping accumulates over time.
And even if you are getting normal sleep once in a while, sleep does not dissolve the accumulated stress of day-in-and-day-out pressures of daily life; it can only dissolve the fatigue of today. So fatigue and stress keep building. Even when you go on vacation, the relaxation doesn't last very long once you get back to your usual lifestyle. That's why everyone needs a way to dissolve the accumulated fatigue and stress of daily living, which is made worse by sleep deprivation.
Practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique on a regular basis allows you to throw off that accumulated stress. Research indicates that the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation improves health, including psychological well-being. Researchers estimate that 70 to 90% of disease is stress related, so if you have a mechanism for reducing stress, it improves your overall health and all aspects of your life.
James Krag, M.D. is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, president of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia, and former president of the Virginia Association of Community Psychiatrists for four years. He is currently Medical Director of Liberty Point, a residential treatment program for adolescents with psychiatric problems.
Sarina Grosswald, Ed.D. is an expert in cognitive learning who recently directed the first-of-its-kind research study on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on children with language-based learning disabilities. Dr. Grosswald and her work have been extensively featured in the national media, including PBS and ABC News.