Insomnia HelpThere are many causes of insomnia and millions of Americans suffer from it. Causes of insomnia:
- Alcohol Consumption
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Anxiety induced by many causes
- Intestinal Parasites
- Money Worries
- Job and/or Family Stress
- Overconsumption of Caffeine and/or Nicotine
- Poor Sleep Environment
What Is Insomnia?Insomnia (in-SOM-ne-ah) is a common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. They may not feel refreshed when they wake up.
OverviewInsomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute insomnia is common and often is brought on by situations such as stress at work, family pressures, or a traumatic event. Acute insomnia lasts for days or weeks. Chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem. Certain medical conditions, medicines, sleep disorders, and substances can cause secondary insomnia. In contrast, primary insomnia isn’t due to medical problems, medicines, or other substances. It is its own distinct disorder, and its cause isn’t well understood. Many life changes can trigger primary insomnia, including long-lasting stress and emotional upset. Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy. It also can make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may have trouble focusing on tasks, paying attention, learning, and remembering. These problems can prevent you from doing your best at work or school. Insomnia also can cause other serious problems. For example, you may feel drowsy while driving, which could lead to an accident.
OutlookTreating the underlying cause of secondary insomnia may resolve or improve the sleep problem, especially if you can correct the problem soon after it starts. For example, if caffeine is causing your insomnia, stopping or limiting your intake of the substance might make the insomnia go away. Lifestyle changes, including better sleep habits, often help relieve acute insomnia. For chronic insomnia, your doctor may recommend medicines or cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Top 10 ways to beat insomnia1. There are many reasons why people have a difficult time staying asleep. The good news is that common problems with sleep are often easily addressed without the use of medication – there are no guaranteed natural cures for insomnia, but there are effective steps you can take. Ask yourself these questions (and try the simple sleep aid recommendations) if you find yourself waking frequently in the night: • Are you physically uncomfortable? A too soft or too firm mattress, an uncomfortable pillow, or an older, worn-out bed can all impede a good night’s sleep. Check your mattress for signs of wear at least twice a year, and consider new pillows. You may also want to see an osteopathic physician who specializes in osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT). A session or two of this safe and effective sleep aid treatment can be life-changing. • Is your bedroom noisy? Consider a “white noise” generator, an inexpensive but effective device for making soothing sounds to mask jangling ones. • Is your mind overactive? If you can’t sleep because of thoughts whirling through your head, try the Relaxing Breath – it can help you put aside the thoughts that are keeping you awake. A few stretches can help with sleep aid, too. • Are you frequently getting up to urinate and then not able to get back to sleep? Eliminate caffeine and alcohol, especially before bedtime – both can increase nighttime urination and increase sleep disturbances. If you experiment with all these possibilities and still wake in the early morning hours, try getting up and reading or doing some light stretching – anything other than watching the clock and worrying about the sleep you’re losing. Taking your mind off the problem can help to relax you and may help you to fall back asleep. 2. Insomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, affecting about one-third of the adult population worldwide. Insomnia is more common in women, but quality of sleep often decreases equally in both women and men as we age. There are a variety of factors that can cause insomnia: stress (including anxiety about not being able to sleep), extreme temperature fluctuations, environmental noise or changes, medication side effects, hormones, or disruption to the regular sleep pattern. Depression, chronic pain, a variety of health issues and sleep apnea can also contribute to insomnia. Lifestyle can also affect insomnia – studies have shown that alcohol and caffeine intake and smoking cigarettes before bedtime disrupts sleep, as can excessive napping in the afternoon or evening. These are not guaranteed natural cures for insomnia, but each may provide relief:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine. Take a warm bath, go for a relaxing stroll, or practice meditation/relaxation exercises as part of your regular nighttime routine.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning. This includes weekends.
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. Studies have shown people who are physically active sleep better than those who are sedentary. The more energy you expend during the day (preferable earlier in the day) the sleepier you will feel at bedtime.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol, particularly in the evening.
- Avoid large meals late in the evening.
- Learn and use a relaxation technique regularly. Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are good examples.
- Use “white noise” devices to block out surrounding environmental noise.
- Don’t obsess about not sleeping. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that individuals who worry about falling asleep have greater trouble dropping off. It may help to remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening.
- Short naps are good. Try to get into the habit of napping: ten to twenty minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
- Spend some time outdoors as often as you can to get exposure to bright, natural light. If you are concerned about harmful effects of solar radiation, do it before ten in the morning or after three in the afternoon or use sunscreen.
- Try to give yourself some time (up to an hour)in dim light before you go to sleep at night. Lower the lighting in your house and bedroom and if other members of the household object, wear sunglasses.
- The two best natural sleep aid treatments are valerian and melatonin. Valerian is a sedative herb, used for centuries. You can find standardized extracts in health food stores and pharmacies. Take one to two capsules a half hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. My recommendation here is to use non toxic melatonin liquid that is absorbed in the mouth’s mucous membrane.
- Are your lunches heavy in carbohydrates? Midday meals with lots of carbs can make you sleepy. Make sure your lunch has a balance of carbs and protein.
- Do your snacks come in the form of a candy bar? Stay away from refined and processed foods, especially products heavy on sugar. While they can cause an initial energy spike, they are usually followed by a decline in energy. Opt for a healthier snack, like fresh fruit, that will better sustain your energy.
- How do you combat boredom? Instead of slumping in your chair, get up and go for a brief walk, to get your blood flowing.
- How much coffee do you drink in the morning? A coffee drinker’s energy cycle is usually controlled by coffee – energized early in the day, lethargic and slow in the late afternoon. Ginseng tea is a good coffee substitute, one that is less likely to make you feel sluggish in the afternoon.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine, and try to go to bed at the same time every night. Get plenty of exercise during the day. The more energy you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at bedtime.
- Reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine, stimulants and alcohol. Even when consumed early in the day, these can affect sleep.
- Avoid large meals late in the evening.
- Learn and practice a relaxation technique regularly.
- Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are good examples, although these are not sure-fire natural cures for insomnia.
- Don’t obsess about not sleeping. Instead, remind yourself that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn’t life-threatening.
- Magnesium and calcium. Oral magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of fatigue in persons with low magnesium levels.
- Eleuthero or Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Studies show that Eleuthero can help enhance mental activity as well as physical endurance.
- Coenzyme Q10. This vital nutrient is involved in cellular energy production throughout the body.
- Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb prized for its ability to help the body deal with stress.
- Cordyceps, a traditional Chinese medicinal mushroom that may help fight fatigue and boost energy levels.
- Eliminate caffeine from your diet, especially in the form of soft drinks and coffee, as well as over-the-counter drugs (check the labels).
- Practice daily breathing exercises, and the relaxing breath when falling asleep.
- Take a warm bath before bedtime.
- Get at least 45 minutes of aerobic activity every day.