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Atarax (Hydroxyzine)

If your insomnia has become severe enough or prolonged enough for you to be reading this book, then it is in part a habit, perhaps alongside some other habits, like not looking after yourself well enough, or postponing dealing with anxieties. And short-term insomnia can become long-term insomnia simply by acquiring the habit of expecting to sleep badly. Human beings are odd creatures: most of us like to think we are independent, free-thinking spirits. Yet a surprising amount of our behaviour is totally conditioned, starting when we are very young. Much of our conditioning is helpful and life-supporting; it would be very inconvenient if every time you crossed a road you had to relearn the desirability of looking both ways, or what red, amber and green lights mean. Unfortunately the mechanical part of our brain absorbs other, less helpful lessons, like associating bed with lying awake.
It’s common these days for the brain to be likened to a computer — a computer more vast and complex than any yet built, and of course with a capacity for original thought, but nonetheless a machine which obediently reproduces whatever programming is fed into it.
Thus a few people are ‘sleep hypochondriacs’; early in life an over-anxious parent has programmed them with the idea that without eight hours’ solid sleep their health will suffer. The computer part of the brain that has accepted this belief reacts with anxiety when those solid eight hours aren’t forthcoming — until the owner of the computer takes a fresh look at the old programme and decides to delete it and feed in new, up-to-date information.
Of course, we are more than our brains, and our brains are much more than computers; but the image is useful in that a computer is amenable to instruction by the person in charge — you. The mechanical part of our thinking is intended as a tool, not a hindrance, and you have the power to change your unwanted programmes for more useful ones.
If your insomnia has an emotional basis, you may need to deal with that too. Meanwhile, how you think and talk to yourself may be creating a habit out of what could be a temporary problem.

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