When we do not sleep we experience a range of other symptoms such as fatigue and poor concentration. Sleep helps in healing as body requires minimal energy during that time.
Insomnia means difficulty falling asleep or to remain asleep for a period of time in which the body is restored for normal day to day functions. Insomnia make the person moody, fatigued and dull. Although no death has been reported due to insomnia but animal studies suggest that insomnia can kill animals over a period of 32 days of non stop sleep deprivation. Basically, insomnia lays stress on the organs of body such as liver, kidney, brain etc and their functioning is impaired. Some of the most serious associated problems seen with chronic insomnia are high BP, diabetes, heart failure, stroke. Other less potentially dangerous conditions include obesity, depression, lower sex drive, premature dark circles etc
Things to Avoid –
- Avoid eating before sleep – While you may feel sleepy after eating a big meal, this is no way to help you fall asleep and get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is supposed to allow your body time to rest and recover, and when you eat, this takes valuable time away from this healing process. Since going to sleep feeling hungry may also keep you awake, try drinking a glass of warm milk at bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol – Contrary to the popular belief that alcohol helps you to sleep better because it makes you feel more relaxed, alcohol actually disrupts your sleep cycle. Alcohol before bedtime can lead to shallow and fragmented sleep, as well as frequent awakenings throughout the night.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day – Caffeine is a stimulant, and it can keep you awake. This includes coffee, some types of teas, colas and other sodas, and chocolate.
- Avoid eating foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate) late in the day – Although Chinese food often has been singled out as containing MSG (in fact, it usually does not), many other types of food, especially pre-packaged foods, may contain this. Before purchasing a pre-packaged meal, make sure it does not contain monosodium glutamate.
- Avoid smoking to help you sleep – Aside from the fact that smoking itself can cause complications and a worsening of your chronic disease. Smoking affects sleep quality in a variety of ways. The main ingredient in tobacco is nicotine, which is both a drug and a stimulant. Consumed too close to bedtime in high quantities, it can affect the sleep physiology. Smokers also tend to experience disruptive sleep, and may not be getting the adequate hours of deep, restorative sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is another condition experienced by smokers, caused by smoke that irritates the nose and throat tissues and causes swelling that can restrict air flow.
- Avoid sleeping pills – While the name “sleeping pills” sounds like the perfect solution for sleep problems, they tend to become less effective over time. Also, many sleeping pills have a rebound effect—that is, if you stop taking them, it is more difficult to get to sleep. Thus, as they become less effective, you can have even more problems than you had when you first started taking the sleeping pills. All in all, it is best to avoid using sleeping pills if at all possible.Research has shown sleeping pills can make a person dependent and there is also not much evidence associated that it helps in increasing the quality of sleep.
- Avoid diuretics before bedtime– Unless your doctor has recommended otherwise, don’t reduce the overall amount of fluids you drink, as these are important for your health. However, you may want to limit your fluid intake right before you go to bed.
Things to Do –
- Set up and maintain a regular rest and sleep schedule – That is, go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.If you wish to take a nap, take one in the afternoon, but do not take a nap after dinner. Stay awake until you are ready to go to bed.
- If your sleep schedule is way off the norm (for example,you go to bed at 4 a.m.and sleep until noon), reset your sleep clock.To do so,try going to bed one hour earlier or later each day until you reach the hour you want to go to sleep. This may sound strange, but it seems to be the best way to reset your sleep clock.
- Exercise at regular times each day – Not only will the exercise help you obtain better quality sleep, it will also help to set a regular pattern during your day. However, avoid exercising immediately before bedtime, as well as other activities that excite you.
- Get out in the sun every afternoon,even if it is only for 15 or 20 minutes.
- Get used to doing the same things every night before going to bed –This can be anything from watching the news, to reading a chapter of a book, to taking a warm bath. By developing and sticking to a“time to get ready for bed”routine, you will be telling your body that it’s time to start winding down and relax.
- Use your bed and your bedroom only for sleeping – If you find that you get into bed and you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed and go into another room until you begin to feel sleepy again
- Mindfulness meditation – consists of slow, steady breathing while sitting quietly. You observe your breath, body, thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they rise and pass. Mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits that go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle promoting good sleep. It’s said to reduce stress, improve concentration, and boost immunity.
- Yoga – may also alleviate stress, improve physical functioning, and boost mental focus.Choose a style that focuses more on moving meditation or breath work as opposed to difficult physical movements. Slow, controlled movements allow you to stay present and focused.
- Massage therapy to benefit people with insomnia by improving sleep quality and daytime dysfunction. It may also reduce feelings of pain, anxiety, and depression. If professional massage isn’t an option, you can do self-massage. You may also find it beneficial to have a partner or friend give you a massage. Allow your mind to focus on the feelings and sensations of touch as your mind wanders.
- Foods that Contain Magnesium – Magnesium is a mineral that promotes relaxation in the body and decreases the incidence of muscle cramps and headaches. Oats, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and fermented dairy products are good sources of magnesium.
- The Vitamin B Group – B vitamins help optimize the working of the nervous system and are found in foods like green leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast and organic meat. Also, B-complex vitamins are proven to reduce the incidence of insomnia.
Homeopathic Remedies indicated –
There are many Homeopathic remedies which have shown positive results on the quality of sleep. To quote a few –
- Aconite Nap – Nightmares, nocturnal ravings, anxious dreams, sleeplessness with restlessness and tossing about (30 potency). Insomnia in the aged.
- Arnica – Sleepless and restless when overtired. Comatose drowsiness, awakens with a hot head, dreams of death, mutilated bodies, anxious and terrible. Involuntary stools during sleep.
- Arsenic – Disturbed, anxious, restless. Head must be raised by pillows. Suffocative fits during sleep. Sleep with hands over head. Dreams are full of care and fear. Sleeping sickness.
- Coffea Cruda – Coffea Cruda is a beneficial medicine for insomnia arising from constant thoughts in mind. During bedtime, many ideas crowd the mind. The person remains restless at night and experiences sleeplessness, tossing from side to side. Palpitations and nervousness may attend. This medicine is also helpful in children who are playful at night and are sleepless. Coffea Cruda is also well indicated for early waking from sleep (usually around 3:00 am) with difficulty in falling asleep again. Insomnia during the phase of convalescence (i.e., during recovery from some illness) is also treated with Coffea Cruda. This remedy also offers help in cases of disturbed sleep from excessive dreams.
- Calcarea Carb – Calcarea Carb is another excellent medicine for the treatment of insomnia. The individual requiring Calcarea Carb is sleepless at night and very drowsy during the daytime. He may sleep for a short duration, and experience sleeplessness post 2 am. At night, a heated sensation, agitation and pulsating in the head appears due to insomnia. The person often feels exhausted in the morning with a desire to sleep, and the head may feel heavy.
- Gelsemium – Cannot get enough sleep. Delirious on falling asleep. Insomnia from exhaustion, from uncontrollable thinking, tobacco. Sleepless from nervous irritation.
- Hyoscyamus N – Intense sleeplessness. Sopor with convulsions. Starts up frightened. Disturbs the nervous system profoundly, as if some diabolical force took possession of the brain and prevented its functions. It produces a perfect picture of mania in a quarrelsome and obscene character.
- Kali Phos-Insomnia from stress, anxiety, and worrying is best treated with natural Homeopathic medicine Kali Phos. The stress may be related to studies, business or health issues. Kali Phos is also very beneficial in the treatment of Insomnia that results from over-working or exerting the mind. Sleeplessness from nervous fatigue, over-study, and mental work in excess all guide towards the use of Kali Phos as a cure. Kali Phos is also the top Homeopathic remedy for Insomnia induced by a drained-out mind.
- Ignatia: –This homeopathic medicine cures patients who are light sleepers. The sleep is so light that the patient can hear everything around. Dreams regarding one fixed subject are indicated. It occurs due to depression and sad thoughts.
- Nux Vomica – It is the greatest of polychrests, because the bulk of its symptoms correspond in similarity with those of the commonest and most frequent of diseases. It is frequently the first remedy indicated after over dosing, establishing a sort of equilibrium of forces and counter acting chronic effects. Nux is pre-eminently the remedy for many of the conditions incident to modern life. The typical nux patient is rather thin, spare, quick, active, nervous and irritable. Cannot sleep after 3 am till, towards the morning, wakes up feeling wretched. Drwosy after meals and early morning. Dreams full of bustle and hurry. Better aftrer a short sleep unless aroused.
- Opium – Hahnemann says that it is much more difficult to estimate the action of Opium, than of almost any other drug. The effects of opium are shown in the insensiblity of nervous system, depressive drowsy stupor, painlessness, topor, general sluggishness and lack of vital reaction. Great drowsiness. Sleepiness followed by insomnia for weeks. Profound coma. Loss of breath on falling asleep. Coma vigil. Very sleepy but cannot sleep. Distant noises, cocks crowing etc keeps him awake. Child dreams of cats, dogs, black forms. Bed feels very hot, cannot lie on it.
- Stramonium – The entire focus of this drug seems to be on the brain. Sesations as if limbs are seperated from the body. Awakens terrified, screams with fright. Deep snoring sleep. Sleep apnoea. Delusions about own identity, thinks himself to be tall, double, sees ghosts, talks to spirits. Cannot bear solitude or darkness.
- Zincum Met – Zincum Met is a medicine for restless legs syndrome that leads to troubled sleep. The person needing this medicine experiences restlessness of the feet or lower limbs. They keep on moving them constantly, and this uneasiness is worse at night. The lower limbs also feel heavy. In some cases drawing pain and cramping in legs arises. Formication (sensation like insects crawling over the skin) of feet at night may also attend.