Insomnia

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” F Scott Fitzgerald

Condition and Causes

Insomnia is difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep or both. It may be due to inadequate quality or quantity of sleep. It is habitual sleeplessness. Insomnia can be a long term or short term problem. Short term insomnia lasts for a few days and can be triggered by sudden changes in circumstance or temporary illness.

Chronic insomnia lasts for years at a time. It is often a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition. Fifty percent of insomnia cases can be attributed to depression and psychological disorders, such as anxiety, stress, or grief. The other causes are mainly physical conditions such as arthritis, asthma, breathing problems, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, indigestion, kidney or heart disease, restless leg syndrome, muscle aches, Parkinson’s disease, or physical pain.

A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium can cause you to wake up after a few hours and not return to sleep. Disorders involving the brain, digestive system, endocrine system, heart, kidneys, livers, lungs and pancreas may all affect sleep, as can poor nutritional habits and eating to close to bed time.

Signs and symptoms

One or two sleepness nights can cause irritability and daytime sleepiness, with the decreased ability to perform creative or repetitive tasks, most people can adapt to short term sleep deprivation. After more than three days, sleep deprivation begins to cause a more serious deterioration in overall performance. Chronic, inadequate sleep, reduces productivity, creates problems in relationships and can contribute to other health conditions.

  • Difficulty failing asleep.
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to drift back to sleep.
  • Tiredness.
  • Feeling stressed and anxious about the thought of going to sleep.
  • Failure to get an entire night’s sleep on most nights over a one-month period can be considered chronic insomnia.

Medical Approach and Treatment

The medical approach for Insomnia is sleeping pills, over the counter or prescription medications. Sleeping pills however do not cure insomnia, and they can interfere with REM sleep. The continued use of pharmacological sleeping aids can eventually lead to disruption of all the deeper stages of sleep. Continued use of sleeping pills leads to dependency. It should only be reserved for those who have insomnia on a physical basis and only as a temporary solution.

Tranquilizers like the benzodiazepines are being prescribed as medication because they pose a lower risk than sedatives. Some of these drugs such as temazepam, diazepam, flurazepam may lead to confusion, sluggishness, restlessness, and heightened anxiety, as well as prolonged sedation and drug dependency.

Antidepressants are also prescribed as medication for insomnia, as it is closely linked with depression. In this case, the patient would need to be under a psychiatrist, and progress monitored closed. The positive about antidepressants is that they are less addictive than sedatives and tranquilizers.

Nutrition Approach and Treatment

Diet

Do not overeat at dinner and avoid having late meals. Also eliminate caffeine, including all caffeinated beverages, as well as chocolate. Otherwise limit caffeine beverages to the mornings only.

In the evening eat bananas, dates, figs, milk, nut butter, tuna, turkey, and whole grain crackers or yogurt. These foods are high in tryptophan, which promotes sleep.

Avoid heavy meals three hours before bed time.

Avoid bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, spinach, tomatoes and wine close to bedtime. These foods contains tyramine, which releases a hormone norepinephrine that stimulates the brain.

Avoid taking nasal decongestants and other cold medications late in the day. Ingredients in these preparations are known to cause drowsiness, can have the opposite effect on some people and act as a stimulant.

Lifesytle

Try to establish a set of habits and follow them consistently to establish a healthy sleep cycle.

  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
  • Do not stay in bed if you are not sleepy. Get up and move to another room and read, or do something quiet until you are really sleepy.
  • Keep regular sleep-wake cycles. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room with a comfortable temperature.
  • Exercise regularly in the late afternoon or early evening. Physical exertion is an excellent way to make your body tired so that sleep comes about more esily.
  • Take a hot bath an hour or two before bedtime. Use some Lavender oil and flower essence such as Olive for relaxation.
  • Keep the bedroom comfortable and quiet.
  • Learn to put worries out of your mind. Learn relaxation techniques, or guided imagery is helpful in getting sleep patterns back to normal.

Nutrients

Calcium has a calming effect. Use calcium lactate or calcium chelate form (do not use lactate if you are allergic to dairy). 1,500-2,000 mg daily in divided dosages, after meals and bedtime.

Magnesium is needed to balance with calcium and relax the muscle. 1,000 mg daily. Melatonin is a natural hormone that promotes sound sleep. Use it only occasionally and do not give it to children. Start with 1.5 mg daily taken 2 hours or less before bedtime. If this isn’t effective increase gradually till up to 5 mg.

Vitamin B Complex will help promote a restful state. Use as directed.

Zinc aids in recovery of body tissues while sleeping. 15 mg daily.

Herbs

Kava kava is a good relaxant if stress or anxiety is the reason of insomnia.

Valerian, skullcap, passionflower and oat berries help calm the nervous system and decrease irritability.

Chamomile calms the nervous and digestive systems.

Catnip and Chamomile are mild sedatives, drinking the tea helps to calm and tone the nervous system through out the day.

Kinesiology

  • In Chinese medicine insomnia is caused by disturbed Shen, balancing the kidney and heart can restore that Shen. Deep channel clear, organ balance, or can opener on Kidney. Heart/Kidney axis balance can also be useful.
  • Chinese medicine principles also believe the Liver causes insomnia, emotionally due to suppressed angry, and physically due to imbalance in chi and blood. An organ balance, deep channel clear, or can opener can be useful.
  • Qi Rhythm Balance to rebalance the body cycle.
  • Toxic emotion
  • Chakra Hologram, on crown and third eye as on a metaphysical level imbalance in those chakras can lead to insomnia.
  • Ghost Points can also be used to treat insomnia. See Appendix.

Homeopathy

Staphysagria is good for suppressed angry, which can cause imbalance to the Liver.

Phosphorus can be used for insomnia as suffers are usually quite ungrounded and anxious.