(total read time-3 mins approx.)
WHAT IS INSOMNIA?
Insomnia/sleeplessness is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of one or more of the following:
- difficulty falling asleep
- waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep
- waking up too early in the morning
- unrefreshing sleep
Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours of sleep a person gets or how long it takes to fall asleep. Individuals vary normally in their need for, and their satisfaction with, sleep. Insomnia may cause problems during the day, such as tiredness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Insomnia can be classified as transient (short term), intermittent (on and off), and chronic (constant). Insomnia lasting from a single night to a few weeks is referred to as transient. If episodes of transient insomnia occur from time to time, the insomnia is said to be intermittent. Insomnia is considered to be chronic if it occurs on most nights and lasts a month or more.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Certain conditions seem to make individuals more likely to experience insomnia.
Examples of these conditions include:
- advanced age (insomnia occurs more frequently in those over age 60)
- female gender
- a history of depression
If other conditions (such as stress, anxiety, a medical problem, or the use of certain medications) occur along with the above conditions, insomnia is more likely. There are many causes of insomnia. Transient and intermittent insomnia generally occur in people who are temporarily experiencing one or more of the following:
- environmental noise
- extreme temperatures
- change in the surrounding environment
- sleep/wake schedule problems such as those due to jet lag
- medication side effects
Chronic insomnia is more complex and often results from a combination of factors, including underlying physical or mental disorders. One of the most common causes of chronic insomnia is depression. Other underlying causes include arthritis, kidney disease, heart failure, asthma, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and hyperthyroidism. However, chronic insomnia may also be due to behavioral factors, including the misuse of caffeine, alcohol, or other substances; disrupted sleep/wake cycles as may occur with shift work or other nighttime activity schedules; and chronic stress.
In addition, the following behaviors have been shown to perpetuate insomnia in some people:
- expecting to have difficulty sleeping and worrying about it
- ingesting excessive amounts of caffeine
- drinking alcohol before bedtime
- smoking cigarettes before bedtime
- excessive napping in the afternoon or evening
- irregular or continually disrupted sleep/wake schedules
These behaviors may prolong existing insomnia, and they can also be responsible for causing the sleeping problem in the first place. Stopping these behaviors may eliminate the insomnia altogether.
WHO GETS INSOMNIA?
Insomnia is found in males and females of all age groups, although it seems to be more common in females (especially after menopause) and in the elderly. The ability to sleep, rather than the need for sleep, appears to decrease with advancing age.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Transient and intermittent insomnia may not require treatment since episodes last only a few days at a time. For example, if insomnia is due to a temporary change in the sleep/wake schedule, as with jet lag, the person’s biological clock will often get back to normal on its own. However, for some people who experience daytime sleepiness and impaired performance as a result of transient insomnia, the use of shortacting sleeping pills may improve sleep and next-day alertness. As with all drugs, there are potential side effects. The use of over-the counter sleep medicines is not usually recommended for the treatment of insomnia. That’s the reason natural herbal remedies and simple lifestyle changes are recommended as the most effective and safe treatments for insomnia.
Natural herbs and foods that can facilitate a good nights sleep:
- Bottle gourd: The mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil acts as an effective medicine for insomnia. It should be massaged over the scalp every night.
- Lettuce: Lettuce is very beneficial for the insomniac and it contains a sleep inducing substance called “lectucarium”. Lettuce juice has been liked in effect to have a sedative action on the mind. The juice mixed with oil of roses, applied on the forehead and temples induces sleep.
- Curd: The patient should take plenty of curd and massage it on the head and also add liberal quantities to the diet.
- Milk&Honey: Honey is one of the most beneficial foods in the treatment of insomnia. It has hypnotic action in bringing sound sleep. It should be taken with a glass of warm milk, before going to bed. Milk acts as a tonic and a tranquiliser.
- Lavender&Chamomile aromatherapy oils: Mixtures of these oils when used as a candle or as an inhalant in the room of an insomniac also induce sleep. These oils have the ability of bringing calmness to your thoughts which are very frequently racing in all directions when you can’t fall asleep.
What to avoid:
- Do not take sleeping pills. They have pain relievers, bromides, antihistamines, and/or scopolamine. These are ineffective and produce unpleasant side effects.
- Other foods which keep people awake include fatty foods, sugar, white flour, salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), chemical preservatives, additives, and allergenic foods.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality.
What habits promote a good night’s sleep?
Good sleep habits can help you get a good night’s sleep. For example:
- Regularity in your habits is important. This is vital to good sleep. Always go to bed at the same time, and get up at a definite time. The body has normal rhythmic cycles. People with regular habits have faster reaction time and are happier than those with irregular sleeping times. Getting up each morning at the right time will help you go to sleep at the right time each night. Sleeping in, on weekends, disrupts the biological clock.
- Try not to take naps during the day because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
- Get regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for 3 hours before the time you go to sleep.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime, however, may help you sleep.
- Make your sleeping place comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or an air conditioner to cover up the sounds.
- Follow a routine to help relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book.
- Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep.
- If you have trouble lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed. This will help you to “let go” of those worries overnight. If you cannot sleep, you can just lay there, relax, and rest. This is nearly as good as sleep.
- Or you can get up and do something quietly and calmly for a short time—and then go back to bed and to sleep. One excellent method is to go outside and breath the fresh air, look up at the stars, breath some more fresh air—and then go back to bed and to sleep.
- If you want a restful night’s sleep, make sure a little current of air is passing through your room, even in the winter. But you cannot sleep well when it is stuffy.
- Take a hot bath or a hot shower an hour or two before bedtime.
- Make sure you have a good mattress to sleep on.
Keep your thoughts heavenward, and you will find it much easier to go to sleep at night.
Trust in God. He promises to give His beloved rest.
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30 thoughts on “Sleepless Nights- Natural Cures”
I will try to be good here but I find intimacy is the best way to prevent a sleepless night. I don’t mean to make this R rated but as you know as a wife this works wonders. lol
Totally great article.
INtimacy is great…and no youre not being R rated….but what when youre alone??? 😉
great and highly valuable advice as always, Zeenat! What works great for me is visualizing and meditating right before going ot bed or even in bed. Makes me fall asleep quickly and peacefully.
I know…meditation had that effect…but you know not many people know how to or have the patience to meditate..so then these practical tips come in handy.
So glad you liked the post 🙂
The not getting back to sleep in the middle of the night gets me every time! After about an hour, I usually give up and read a book…
Nice to see you here 🙂
I know how the middle of the night can be…its irritating and frustrating…but reading…and that too something really boring can do the trick 🙂
Man… I haven’t slept through the night in two years (coincidentally, since we got our second cat). This infernal creature wakes me several times a night, then keeps me up starting around 4 or 5 am. Seriously, I could STRANGLE her, if Hunter didn’t love her so much! What’s a mom to do?
I used to sleep LONG nights, 8 to 10 hours each. Now I basically cat nap my way through the night. Oh, and being an “aging” woman on anti-depressants I’m sure doesn’t help one bit. I’m gonna need a constant drip IV of lettuce juice, chamomile, milk and honey! 😉
hehehe…sweetie..I am cat napping my way through life too since my little daughter was born…its almost 3 years..but somehow she manages to wake up in the middle of the night ….and i just have to wake up with her. Sometimes its her teeth..and sometimes she is just throwing a tantrum…but only mummy dearest can soothe her..And the worst thing is..i cant or rather i hate to sleep during the day…so that leaves me with only cat napping 🙂
Dont say aging women….I rather think i am young forever 😉 and so are you 🙂
Helpful medicine advices.
Glad you liked the natural suggestions 🙂
Wow, Excellent post! Quite an extensive coverage of how we can get over sleepless nights and achieve a deep and peaceful sleep. I think following a majority of these points would definitely cure anyone having insomnia and sleep troubles. Keep up the great work!
Glad you think this extensive article will help. I was worried people will fall asleep just reading it..;) Its pretty long na 🙂
Thanks for the lovely comment.
Those are wonderful tips, Zeenat! I am going to send these to someone I know who has trouble sleeping. His mind is always just going a mile a minute.
Another thing that helps me sleep soundly is meditation right before bed. For some reason, it calms my dreams (and makes them more intuitive) and keeps me asleep for 7 – 8 hours straight. No tossing & turning!
HI My JOyful Angel,
Yay…atleast the right people will be getting the information thx to you 🙂 I hope these tips help him.
Meditation can truly work wonders to calm the mind and heighten our dream state……but somehow..not everyone is patient enough or really knows how to meditate…..so in that case these practical tips work wonders.
Lots of love
I have the very person who needs these tips right now, so this is very timely, thank you so much.
Glad these tips are going to come in handy. Do pass them along..and if they need anymore help..they can always get in touch with me. 🙂
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Fantabulous post, Z! As you know, I’m HUGE on alternative medicine and natural remedies. Love the info you provide here.
The lavender is awesome, I agree!
Lavender is my fav too 🙂
I used lavender oil for my mum while in her stressful stages..and menopausal stages …it really worked wonders. It works well on stress too.
Glad you liked the info 🙂
I don’t have this problem Zeenat, though this would be a good reference, in case I ever need it one day.
I am happy you Dont have this problem. It can be really irritating.
If you think anyone else needs these tips please feel free to pass them along 🙂
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This is a useful post!
I found that a stick of cinnamon in warm milk also induces sleep. I discovered this by accident, by oversleeping and sleeping very soundly, whenever I took this for it’s great taste and aroma, just before sleeping. 🙂
HI INdian Homemaker!!!
NIce to see you here 🙂
Cinnamon does work well to calm the nerves….but sleeping..rare case, but if it works for you…stick with it 🙂
Thanks for sharing the tip…will keep it in mind.an surely try it.
I’ve been having some sleeping troubles lately, and I just happened to stumbled to this page of yours…awesome!
Anyways, I think the reason I can’t sleep is because the place I live in is near an airport. Which means a bunch of stupid airplanes come and go and in pretty annoying manner.
I guess I could do something to for my ears to prevent them from hearing the noises, but I am extra sensitive to anything when I am asleep, so I can’t sleep with stuffs in my ear…
What do you suggest I do Zeenat?
I had apatient who lived next to the train tracks…and he had this same problem. The only thing you can do is to over throw that plane sound with something else. Try using a CD with calming sounds or calming music. Put it on atleast 15 to 20 minutes before going to bed..within a few days…your mind will automatically get accustomed to the calm cd and block out the other unpleasant sounds.
LEt me knwo how it works.
Hi Dear Zeenat,
This is very thorough. Fascinating read. I remember a holistic doctor telling that people shouldn’t eat carbs any later than 5:00 to 6:00 PM because even though carbs can initially make you drowsy, later in the night they affect the adrenals and can wake you. It has something to so with blood sugar if I remember right. You might know more about this. I only know that if I eat carbs I will almost ALWAYS wake in the middle of night or anywhere from 2 – 4 AM. But if I eat protien and/or greens I don’t have that problem. For me it can even happen with complex carbs…
Good work Zeenat. You put a lot into this. So helpful for so many people who struggle with sleep loss. Oh, the other thing that REALLY helps me is to exercise each day, which you mention. But it is especially effective if it’s done outdoors in fresh air. A hike or good long walk. Even if one feels exhausted at the end of the day (or the beginning) if they just walk slowly, but walk in fresh air it can make a huge difference in sleep quality.
Thank you dear one. Nice to “see” you again. It always is.
This may sound silly to a few people, but I use a litle breathing and meditation techinques to help me go to bed… and if I really concentrate… it works every time.
Now I don’t suffer with sleepless nights… most of the time, but I thought I would just drop that little story off.
And I like that intimacy idea! haha!
Hi Zeenat, nice article. Here are a couple of more things. A lot of people don’t know this but getting Sun and activity early in the morning resets your biological clock and helps produce hormones as part of your sleep / wake cycle. Also the thing with the mask helps, but is not the best option. Pitch dark is best. All of your skin cells are sensitive to light and experiments have shown that just a little bit of light on your calf for example, can disrupt melatonin production. You need to sleep in pitch black, not just because of your eyes, but for your whole body and they nighttime hormone cycle.
Hi Zeenat .. interesting ideas re your natural cures .. fortunately I don’t have any problems re sleep – I could do with lots more .. and I do wake at night and then work really hard in my head, fall asleep and feel tired the next day – but I’m sure it’s just the situation I’m in .. and it will all sorts itself out – get on with the work!!
All the best – your thoughts are so useful ..
thanks – Hilary Melton-Butcher
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