Clear dreaming can be healed or helped

This is how important sleep is for health

What to do in case of insomnia

Cognitive behavioral therapy

As long as the nocturnal disturbances occur only occasionally, cognitive behavioral therapy helps with problems falling asleep and staying asleep. Patients learn through mindfulness to avoid behavior patterns that deprive them of sleep. Experts also refer to the rules for the most restful sleep possible as sleep hygiene). Relaxation exercises, for example, are used in therapy.

App offers

Patients would perhaps use an app offer faster than going to a doctor. British scientists working with Colin Espie from Oxford University developed such a program. “Prof”, an avatar in the form of a cartoon doctor, guides you through six virtual sessions of 20 minutes each. An algorithm adapts the program individually to the user. The researchers tested the program on 1,700 insomnia patients. Half got the app program for twelve weeks. The remaining subjects only received a general brochure with tips on sleep hygiene. In the study participants who completed all six app sessions, the sleep disorders improved on a standardized scale between 100 (severe sleep disorders) and zero (none) on average from 88 to 43 points. The effect was significantly stronger than in the control group (improvement to 63 points). However, only just under half of the participants kept the virtual consultation through to the end.

Lucid dreaming

Sleep coaching, which Brigitte Holzinger, psychotherapist and head of the Institute for Consciousness and Dream Research in Vienna, developed together with colleagues, is even more extensive than cognitive behavioral therapy. She integrates dream work into therapy. “Dream images can lead to sleep again,” explains Holzinger.

Lucid dreaming, i.e. consciously controlling the nocturnal cinema in the head, helps people who are regularly torn from their sleep by nightmares. Nightmare patients wake up sweating or with palpitations and remember the terrible thought images. Extreme stress or bad experiences can cause this type of sleep disturbance.

Anyone who wants to control their dreams learns to bring waking elements into the nocturnal mind games. This includes reacting, deciding or planning. This makes it possible, for example, to wake up consciously from a nightmare or to stand still in pursuit dreams and turn around.

“Your own memory creates the nocturnal images. That is why dreams can also be created at will, ”explains Holzinger. Before going to sleep, the dreamer programs himself to expose the dream as such. “Many people know the phenomenon of waking up just before the alarm clock when they have to get up at a certain time. Lucid dreaming works in a similar way, ”says the dream researcher. The easiest way to use the technique is to work in a group that has the common goal of learning lucid dreaming. People with nightmares usually manage particularly quickly to control their dream images.

sleeping pills

"If sleep disorders have already become chronic, cognitive behavioral therapy usually no longer works," says Fietze. Experts speak of insomnia if the patient needs more than 30 minutes to fall asleep over a period of at least three months, wakes up at night and lies awake for more than 30 minutes, or wakes up after only four to five hours and can no longer fall asleep. Then sleeping pills can help. Because they have a bad reputation, those affected often hesitate to be transported to the land of dreams with medical help. Sleep researcher Ingo Fietze can only speculate about how the negative image of the sleeping pill developed. “I think the main reason is that there are no supervising doctors and never have been.” Sleep medicine specialists mainly work in sleep laboratories at clinics. Resident doctors with this specialization are extremely rare. While a pain patient has a contact person if the drug no longer works, the lack of advice with insomniacs often leads to them increasing the dose on their own initiative. However, if a tablet no longer works, the doctor should prescribe a different preparation.

Side effects that have also damaged the image of the sleeping pill, such as daytime sleepiness, are mainly caused by the old benzodiazepines. However, they are no longer used for chronic sleep disorders. Newer active ingredients such as the Z preparations have a shorter effect and therefore do not cause any sagging during the day.

"In my opinion, the sleeping pill is one hundred percent justified in the case of chronic insomnia," says Fietze. Often it is the only alternative to save those affected from losing their job.