Imagine you have trouble sleeping. Perhaps you can’t fall asleep at night or you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re unable to get back to sleep. Maybe this has been going on for a few months — or maybe years. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and demoralizing. You find yourself making mistakes at work, having difficulty concentrating at school, or snapping at your kids, and you blame most of it on your sleepless nights. After a while, you realize you could use some help. You talk to a few friends, search online, and get some “advice”: Drink warm milk. Take a bath. Count sheep. None of it helps.
Maybe you start taking over-the-counter sleeping pills — maybe you take them a lot. If you’re really desperate, you talk to your doctor, and get a prescription for real drugs. Relief! Dancing butterflies visit as you drift off to strange dreams of Abraham Lincoln and talking rodents. But then you realize even the pills aren’t really helping much anymore. Or they are helping, but you’re afraid you’ll never be able to sleep without them.