What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a situation where a person feels that the length or quality of sleep is not satisfactory. Insomnia causes can be identified and insomnia can be cured with natural ways.
People suffer from insomnia in a variety of ways: They may behaving trouble sleeping; they wake up frequently during the night with difficulty to sleep again. They can also wake up very early in the morning and feel that sleep did not give their bodies enough rest.
The stressful events, mild depression or anxiety disorders, are able to keep enough people awake at night .The people who suffer from insomnia are struggling and find it difficult to sleep or they get up unnecessarily during the night. Moreover, sleep is restless and turbulent and they often feel sleepy in the morning.
It is therefore important to stress that insomnia is not determined in accordance with the hours a person needs to sleep or how much time is needed to fall asleep. The need for sleep varies greatly from person to person as well as the satisfaction felt after sleep.
Some facts about insomnia
- The most frequent causes of insomnia at the beginning and during sleep is the frequent use of alcohol, nicotine, drugs and medicines, even sleeping pills. Teenagers and adults with frequent consumption of such substances face insomnia 3.5 times more than the average! The chronic users of alcohol at an older age have even higher percentages of insomnia.
- Insomnia is observed in 35% of the population. The insomnia leads to increased sleepiness during the day and increased fatigue, which reduces efficiency. It also causes lack of energy, difficulty in concentration, loss of memory irritation and anxiety.
- According to a recent study by the US National Foundation For Sleep Disorders, showed that more than half of adults reported that they had insomnia for at least a few nights every week last year, while one third of them admitted that they had insomnia nearly every night.
- Although the insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, should not be considered as an isolated problem but rather a general symptom, such as fever and pain.
- The insomnia can be transient and short-term. The duration in these cases range from one night to several weeks. It may also be chronic; occurring in most nights and lasts a month or more.
- Insomnia may be repeated, meaning that there may be periods of time when you will have insomnia and other periods will go away.
- Generally it should be noted that there is no treatment of insomnia as such, there is only treatment about the causes of insomnia.
Who can suffer from insomnia?
Insomnia may affect men and women of all ages despite the fact that it appears to be more frequent among women and especially after menopause.
Insomnia affects older people more frequently. It seems that as a person gets older this causes greater reduction in the abilities of the person to fall asleep but does not reduce the need for sleep.
Overweight people in particular, present the phenomenon of insomnia during sleep, leading to chronic organic brain disorder and the intense feeling of tiredness during the day, due to reduced oxygenation of the brain. These people represent a high risk of brain and cardiac events.
The Parkinson’s disease is also a cause of often-serious insomnia, because of the difficulty of changing positions in bed during the night since the influence of drugs is reduced.
In rare cases, insomnia begins from early age and it is obviously due to the anomaly of the inherent mechanism for the time adjustment of sleep. When children present insomnia, the doctor must investigate abuse or other traumatic situations.
As a general rule insomnia is most common in the following cases:
- The insomnia is most common in people older than 60 years
- The insomnia is more frequent among women
- People with a history of depression may often suffer from insomnia
Individuals included in the above categories, if they find themselves in situations that involve stress, worries and anxiety, or have any additional medical problem or even when they have to take certain medicines then the likelihood of suffering from insomnia is even greater
Doctors classify insomnia according to the duration of symptoms into the following types:
Transient or temporary Insomnia
Insomnia is regarded as transient or temporary insomnia when lasting only a few days.
Insomnia is categorized as short-term when it lasts a few weeks.
The cause of transitory and short-term insomnia is usually clear to the patient, such as loss or separation from a beloved person, the anxiety about an expected event (such as marriage, public speech, the betrothal, changing house etc), Changing the time zone after a travel (jet lag) or discomfort caused by diseases and injuries.
There are also other causes that can cause insomnia. The transient and recurring forms of insomnia can happen to people who temporarily can be submitted in one of the following situations:
- Environmental noise
- High environmental temperatures
- Changes in the immediate environment
- Problems caused to sleep and awakening due to travel with large differences in time (jet lag)
- Side effects of medicines
Insomnia is considered chronic when it persist for longer periods than temporary or short-term insomnia
Chronic insomnia is a more complex and difficult problem. In many cases comes from a combination of factors, which include organic or mental disorders that coexist.
The causes of chronic insomnia may be due to the intake of certain drugs or medicines or because of medical conditions (diseases). In these cases, insomnia is often relieved after changing the medication or treatment of the underlying disease.
Chronic Insomnia Causes
Depression and Diseases
One of the most common causes of chronic insomnia is depression. Other organic causes that can trigger chronic insomnia are: arthritis, kidney disease, heart failure, asthma, narcolepsy, the RLS syndrome (restless leg syndrome), and Parkinson’s disease.
Also chronic insomnia may be associated with the lifestyle of the individual. The chronic stress causes insomnia. The abuse of caffeine, alcohol or other substances can cause insomnia. Also people who work with a shift or have other activities during the night may have disorders of the sleep cycle with insomnia.
In addition, certain lifestyle habits appeared to assist in continuing and worsening insomnia.
These situations are:
- When a person is concerned and realizes that would be difficult to fall asleep then this may exacerbate the problem
- Drinking too much coffee through out the day or before going to sleep
- Someone drinking alcohol before sleep
- Smoking before sleep
- Too many hours of sleep during the afternoon
- Irregular or continuously interrupted rhythm of sleep
The situations described above may aggravate an existing insomnia or even to create one. Changing of these lifestyle habits may be the way to stop insomnia.
Other stressful events, mild depression or anxiety disorders are able to keep enough people awake at night.
Insomnia Side Effects
Lack of sleep besides tiredness it also appears to bring difficulty in the critical thinking of the individual, especially as regards ethical dilemmas, as shown by the results of a new study.
A study published in the journal ‘Sleep’, was conducted in soldiers who volunteer to participate in the research. The soldiers stayed awake for two nights. The results of the research were that after 2 sleepless nights the soldiers were reluctant to take decisions resulting from emotional or moral dilemmas. The dilemmas raised by the researchers after 53 hours were hypothetical scenarios and not real ones.
However, according to the findings of researcher Dr. William Killgore of ‘Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’, the side effects of insomnia should concern more those who need to take critical decisions quickly such as the military and doctors.
The researchers believe that insomnia may prevent the cognitive processing of information and intelligence with emotion, which is needed to tackle a serious moral dilemma.
The survey was conducted in 26 volunteers who were presented with a scenario of a particular action and were asked to assess it as appropriate or not. The scenario had simple situations and some more difficult personal dilemmas involving decisions that will harm someone in order to protect someone else.
The researchers noticed that the sleepless volunteers needed more time to reach a decision related to a moral dilemma, as compared with those who had good rest. The same did not apply to the easier decisions that did not contain ethical dilemmas.
Some sleepless volunteers also changed their view on what the decision was more morally acceptable. However, this did not happen to those who had high emotional intelligence. The volunteers were examined at the beginning of the investigation for their emotional intelligence and found that those who had achieved a high degree of emotional intelligence were not affected in their decisions by lack of sleep.
Patients with insomnia are assessed after taking into account their background and especially the relationship they have with sleep, insomnia experiences they had in the past, as well as clinical examination. The historical background that shows the relationship of the patient with sleep is very important so the patients should keep a diary in which to write the sleep problems that have over time.
In many cases it is useful to obtain information from the husband or partner of the patient, who can provide information on the length and quality of sleep.
In some cases there may be a special pathology such as sleep apnoea or narcolepsy, which makes it necessary to carry out, specialized studies of sleep.
Some of the ways that are used (wrongly) to cure insomnia like taking alcohol before sleeping and avoiding exercise before sleep-only manage to exacerbate the problem. As the insomnia gets worse, it is deteriorating and causing stress, resulting in a vicious cycle in which anxiety and the consequences of insomnia, becomes the main cause of insomnia.
For insomnia cure to be effective the cause of insomnia should first be revealed.
The transient and recurring forms of insomnia may not require cure because the episodes are of short duration each time. For example, if the problem is due to a temporary change in the rhythm of sleep, like the “jet lag”, then it is a matter of time for the person to find its usual sleeping pace.
Nearly half of the cases of chronic insomnia are associated with psychological problems or disorders of emotion. With proper cure, such as medication or advice, it can improve both the night sleep as well as everyday performance.
People who encounter difficulties in their daily activities due to lack of sleep caused by insomnia may need a short-term treatment.
The treatment of chronic insomnia needs to be carefully integrated approach and includes a medical examination, in some cases pharmaceutical approach and techniques related to lifestyle and attitude about sleep.
Should I take sleeping pills?
Perhaps in some cases it may be useful to allocate sleeping pills, although whether this is useful is a controversial issue.
It is necessary as a patient taking sleeping pills to be under the supervision of a doctor in order to ascertain whether there is benefit from taking the pills and to minimise the adverse effects of these medicines with the appropriate dosage.
Generally these pills are given to the lowest possible dose and for small periods of time, necessary for improving the situation of the patient. These kind of medicines should be discontinued with a gradual reduction of dose because when interrupted immediately there is a risk returning to insomnia for one or two nights.
But it is very important to stress that medicines that cause sleep can have serious side effects as well. That is why it is not right for patients to take medicines by themselves. Every effort should be made to prevent the use of sleeping pills, except in certain cases where there is no other choice and after the consultation of a doctor.
Natural Cures for Insomnia
It is important to adopt natural methods for the cure of insomnia. They are not dangerous and they don’t have the risk of creating other side effects like the sleeping pills.
There are special relaxation techniques that can reduce anxiety, worries and intensity of the body. It takes time though for someone to be trained and to learn to effectively apply these techniques. But when they learn, they are very effective and can calm down the nerves, remove the continuous tension and allow the body to establish a peaceful sleep.
Limiting the hours of night sleep
Another technique is the limitation of sleep. Many people spend too much time in bed trying to sleep without actually achieving it. In these cases they can implement a programme to limit the hours of sleep to a few hours each night. Gradually increasing the time of sleep until rising to normal levels.
Do not try to sleep if you do not want to sleep
Another technique for the natural cure of insomnia is not to force yourself to sleep if you do not want to sleep. When going to bed and you cannot sleep then get off the bed and do another activity until you feel like sleeping. When this happens you can go back to bed.
Take a bath before going to bed
A well-known technique to help you sleep is taking a bath right before you go to bed. Open water (the sound of water running relaxes the nerves) and put in it a cup with chamomile extract, sit in the bathtub and for sure after 20 minutes you will need to sleep. After the bath it is suggested to drink a cup of chamomile tea as well.
Create your own personal pillow
Make a small personal pillow with a soft cotton cloth and fill it with dried herbs: mint, oregano, balm (sedge), thyme, camomile or a mixture of these ‘sleeping’ herbs.
Drink a class of milk with honey
A very old and known sleeping method is to drink a class of hot milk with honey before going to bed. You can also add one-fourth teaspoon of cress tea stirred with milk to increase the effectiveness of the drink.
Eat more Lettuce
Lettuce insomnia. Lettuce is known for its power to ‘cure’ insomnia. It is used for a long time even before the creation of modern medicine