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.
Stress and insomnia go hand in hand with stress being the number one cause for insomnia. This includes mental tension brought about by anxiety, worries, overwork as well as overexcitement.
- A change in work hours or time of sleep as well as an alteration in the sleep environment
- Jet lag, too much of noise and an uncomfortable sleep environment can cause transient insomnia.
- Suppressed feelings of resentment, anger and bitterness may also cause insomnia. Pent up feelings tend to cause a lot of emotional stress that leads to an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Conditions such as dyspepsia, diarrhea and constipation cause a considerable amount of discomfort that hamper one’s ability to sleep soundly.
- Overeating at night, especially just before going to bed as well as going to bed hungry can also lead to sleep deprivation. But such causes for insomnia usually last for just a day or so and are nothing to worry about.
- The excessive intake of tea or coffee also alters one’s ability to fall asleep as the caffeine content promotes alertness.
- Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption could also lead to insomnia over a period of time.
- Sudden withdrawal from addictive habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and drug usage could also be responsible for insomnia.
- Often, worrying about falling asleep is enough to keep one awake.
- Hoping to wake up early could also result in an inability to fall asleep at all.
- Insomnia could also be a side effect of certain medication or could be linked to trauma or surgery.
- There may be changes in the duration and quality of sleep or persistent changes in sleep patterns. Some have little trouble falling asleep, but staying asleep is extremely hard. Some are also known to fall asleep when it is time to wake up
- Lapses of memory, lack of concentration and an inability to focus on work during the day
- Confusion and mental as well as muscular fatigue throughout the day
- Emotional instability, irritability and impaired socializing skills.
- Double vision as well as have hallucinations.
- Try to stick to a sleep time routine.
- Get rid of the bedroom clock. Set an alarm so you don’t oversleep, but then hide it so that you are not constantly conscious of how much sleep you are missing. Ticking clocks are especially offensive to the insomniac!
- Keep active during the day. Get regular exercise (at least 30 minutes daily), but avoid exercise close to bedtime.
- Wind down each day and learn to relax. Find ways to reduce your stress and set aside time each night to unwind and relax from the business of the day. Take a hot bath; drink some herbal tea; do a calming activity that you enjoy such as writing, reading, or working on a puzzle.
- Stop trying so hard. The worst possible thing to do when you cannot sleep is to try and force yourself to sleep. Rather, watch a TV program or read until you feel drowsy and then try again.
- Stay clear of caffeine and other stimulants. Stop drinking tea and coffee at least 6 hours before you go to sleep. Nicotine, chocolate, and sugar also act as stimulants and should be avoided.
- Alcohol, even though it does make you feel drowsy initially, prevents proper deep sleep and often results in frequent waking and restless sleep.
- Good sleepy time snacks include a glass of warm milk, banana, or a turkey sandwich – all contain L-tryptophan and can help to make you drowsy.
- Curb the nap habit. Try to avoid naps during the day. If you must nap, make it a power nap of no more than 20 minutes, and never nap after 3 PM.
- Improve your sleeping environment. Make your bedroom conducive to a good night’s rest by investing in dark curtains to block out all light, earplugs if night noises disturb you, a comfortable mattress. Also ensure that you are neither too hot nor cold at night.
- Sharing thoughts and feelings with close family members or friends as this prevents the risk of pent up negative energy.
- A hot bath before going to bed following a brisk walk after dinner is also believed to be a good insomnia home remedy. A hot shower helps in relaxing the body while the walk not only acts as a good form of exercise but also aids digestion. The walk also tires the body to a certain extent, thus promoting the need for rest.
Insomnia Home Remedies:
- Thiamine: Of the various food elements, thiamine or vitamin B is of special significance in the treatment of insomnia. It is vital for strong, healthy nerves. A body starved of thiamine over a long period will be unable to relax and fall asleep naturally. Valuable sources of this vitamin are wholegrain cereals, pulses, and nuts.
- Lettuce: Lettuce is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia as it contains a sleep-inducing substance, called 'lectucarium'. The juice of this plant has been likened in effect to the sedative action of opium without the accompanying excitement. Lettuce seeds taken in a decoction are also useful in insomnia. One tablespoon of seeds should be boiled in half a litre of water, till it is reduced by one-third.
- Milk: Milk is very valuable in insomnia. A glass of milk, sweetened with honey, should be taken every night before going to bed in treating this condition. It acts as a tonic and a tranquilliser.
- Curd: Curd is also useful in insomnia. The patient should take plenty of curd and massage it on the head. This will induce sleep.
- Aniseed (Saunf): A tea made from aniseed is valuable in sleeplessness. This tea is prepared by boiling about 375 ml of water in a vessel and adding a teaspoon of aniseed. The water should be covered with a lid and allowed to simmer for fifteen minutes. It should then be strained and drunk hot or warm. The tea may be sweetened with honey, and hot milk may also be added to it. This tea should be taken after meals or before going to bed.
- Honey: Honey is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. It has a hypnotic action and induces a sound sleep. It should be taken with water, before going to bed, in doses of two teaspoons in a large cup of water. Babies generally fall asleep after taking honey.
- Mustard oil: Massaging foot sole with mustard (Sarson) oil before going to bed helps to overcome Insomnia.