I have been pondering the article I ran across recently concerning sleeplessness. In this blog post, I referred the reader to a 2011 article in the American Journal of Public Health concerning the medicalization of sleeplessness as insomnia. The problem is that I can find no official publication that draws a distinct between the two. This confusion, if it indeed exists, goes back at least as far as 1888 as demonstrated by this article from that time period, which uses the words “sleeplessness” and “insomnia” interchangeably. A quick search of the Internet reveals no consistency in the definition of insomnia, and rarely do they discuss sleeplessness. I believe the distinction drawn by the article in the AJoPH is valid. I do not believe stress induced sleeplessness should be considered insomnia. However, I have used the terms interchangeably in IPoS because they are treated that way even within the medical community.
Is In Pursuit of Sleep directed toward sleeplessness or insomnia or both? If the distinction drawn in the AJoPH is used, IPoS primarily addresses sleeplessness. However, since the distinction is rarely drawn even in the medical community, IPoS reasonably uses the most common term for sleeplessness, which is insomnia. Hopefully, someday the distinction between these two separate conditions will be properly defined. I also believe that IPoS can be beneficially used, under certain circumstances, for the medical condition. Even the thoughts of those with a medical condition can go astray when trying to go to sleep. That is the reason I do not recommend anyone considering using the method developed in IPoS stop taking medication provided by a healthcare worker.
Does the distinction really matter? My contention is that it matters very much. The reason is that sleeplessness, using the strict definition, should be treated with thought control techniques such as that provided in In Pursuit of Sleep. My non-professional opinion is that medication for this condition should only be prescribed on a temporary basis. Insomnia, using the strict definition, is then a medical condition and should be treated with medication as long as deemed necessary by a healthcare provider, possibly augmented with thought control techniques.
Of course, pharmaceutical companies would resist this distinction because they want to treat both conditions with medication from now to the end of time. It increases the demand for their products and produces higher profits.