The Mayo Clinic and various medical dictionaries suggest that insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or both.
In prior YHM articles I have written about this anatomy as it relates to the tongue, as the dynamic component of the throat compared to one’s tonsils as a static component. I had discussed the numerous muscles that make up the tongue and related anatomy and anatomical connections, even extending to the shoulder blades, collar bone, breastbone and upper ribs. And I had concluded that because of these numerous connections effected by the tongue and affecting the tongue, in its posture and position within the mouth and the throat, our airway patency is unstable and it is constantly losing and regaining its patency through the following body compensations:
The “stress response”: The system is flooded with our adrenaline stress hormone, which re-establishes muscle tone and function, enhances breathing and oxygen circulation, and causes the stress response sensations of the transient-increased rhythm and tempo of the heart beating. This all results in us, both consciously and unconsciously, experiencing “stress” or “anxiety.” This uncomfortable sensation is judged as having a positive or negative effect, depending on the spin.
Forward head posture, which, while you’re awake, translates into postural compensations down to the bottom of the feet. This leads to chronic postural changes, musculoskeletal pain, and joint degeneration. While we are asleep, our prone position leads to tossing and turning as the body reacts until airway patency is restored, even if just momentarily.
Clenching and grinding of the teeth is a third form of compensation as it moves the tongue forward and out of the throat.
During sleep, this instability is challenged by the progressive relaxation and loss of muscle tone, which is associated with progression from lighter to deeper stages of sleep until the tongue collapses into the throat, fully or partially blocking airflow in what is referred to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The compensations arouse the body to a lighter sleep stage, restoring airflow until further progressive relaxation into deeper sleep causes repetition of this throughout the night.
During wakefulness, stress response and postural compensations are more often observed than clenching and grinding teeth. Stimuli to our senses and thoughts distract us, destabilizing the numerous muscles that keep our airway open. We experience the stress response as anxiety, which drives us to neutralize excess stress hormones.
Transitioning into sleep has us prone to both distraction (wakefulness, destabilization) and relaxation (sleep destabilization). These feed into one another, stimulating thinking, until sleepiness overpowers the thoughts being generated in order to neutralize the stress hormone sensations.
Oral appliances designed to treat OSA can help stabilize the airway and make us less prone to insomnia during this transition period.