“To sleep, perchance to dream- ay, there’s the rub.” While Hamlet muses about sleep and dreams, sufferers of insomnia will be happy to sleep with or without the added bonus of dreams. The treatment of insomnia has a troubling history in medicine. The first line of sleeping tablets – barbiturates – were actually dangerous as well as being tremendously addictive. Their successors, benzodiazepines (think Valium, Temazepam, Zomivane) are much less dangerous but if anything even more addictive. Antihistamines and herbs are fairly safe over-the-counter medicines but far from highly effective. So what can insomniacs do?

Learn to relax properly and go to sleep is the answer offered in a major article in today’s Daily Mail. The author, Arifa Akbar, was a lifelong insomniac until she learned Autogenic Therapy, a powerful method of deep relaxation which can be thoroughly learned in 8 – 10 lessons. Now ‘miraculously’ she sleeps very well. Available in both private practice and on the NHS it is also most useful in any problem that is caused or exacerbated by stress. The majority of people who attend a course of Autogenic Therapy and practise about 10 minutes 2-3 times a day are amazed by the results they get from simply learning to relax. It is the first prescription I ever make for insomnia.

The British Autogenic Society provides useful information about Autogenic Therapy and how to find a teacher near you.