The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.
Without nightly downtime to repair and refresh its systems -- like your immune and cardiovascular systems -- your body becomes vulnerable and weak. This increases your risk for a host of serious illnesses. A good night's sleep keeps you healthy AND young!.
Causes of Insomnia: (Ref. U.S. National Library of Medicine)
- Discomfort or illness
- Stress or anxiety
- Drinking caffeine or alcohol, smoking, or taking certain medications or illicit drugs
- "Toxic" Sheets: Many of our bed linens are saturated with formaldehyde. Formaldehyde causes insomnia. Purchasing "green" sheets that have not been drenched in toxins is one of the best things you can do to remedy your insomnia.
- An inappropriate sleep environment, including one that's too bright or too noisy
- Related activities that affect your sleep, such as taking naps or going to bed too early
Sleep allows the body to recover and refresh itself on a daily basis and is vital in ensuring your good health and well-being.
- When your body gets enough rest, you are able to stay more focused on the tasks of the day.
- Lack of sleep can cause you to have slow or delayed reactions. This is blamed for millions of auto accidents each year.
- A person who suffers from insomnia also risks serious illness because the body’s immune system can be affected. A healthy body requires that you sleep at least eight hours a night.
The Use of Drugs:
Commonly described sleep drugs are linked to a wide range of undesirable and possibly dangerous side effects, including hallucinations, severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks, altered personality, loss of sexual inhibitions, paranoia, delusions, blackouts, amnesia, addiction, psychotic episodes and criminal behavior.
Recommended Changes to Your Daily Routine:
Wake up at the same time each day.
- Sleep is controlled by biological rhythms (also called circadian rhythms) that follow a very set schedule. To align your sleep pattern with these internal rhythms, it's important to wake up at the same time each morning.
Don't eat a big meal too close to bedtime: Don't eat within 2 - 3 hours of bedtime. Digesting a large meal requires our circulatory system to move more blood to our digestive tract, our stomach secretes more gastric acid; our pancreas becomes more active and produces digestive enzymes. After a meal the smooth muscles around our intestines become active. All of these processes are not conducive to putting us into a restful sleep. In addition, our digestive tracts are set up to work best when we are standing or sitting. Lying down results in gravity pulling the "wrong way" to help food digest. This is not ideal from the standpoint of digestion.
Spend time in sunlight. As we get older, our circadian rhythms shift forward in time, causing us to fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier. Exposure to late-afternoon or evening light shifts the rhythm in the opposite direction -- allowing you to wake up later in the morning.
- In general, the more light exposure you get during the day, the better you'll sleep at night. People over age 50 will especially benefit from about a half hour of light exposure at day's end -- in the late afternoon or early evening.
- Nutmeg & Milk: The oil in nutmeg can act as a sedative. The general recommendation is to steep half of a crushed nutmeg (no more) in hot water for about 10 minutes. Strain and drink a half hour before bedtime. Alternatively, stir a half teaspoon of powdered nutmeg into a glass of warm milk. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which encourages sleep by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
- Get enough fiber. Adequate fiber -- in foods such as veggies, fruits, whole grain bread, brown rice and oats -- is essential to efficient digestion, staving off problems such as constipation, irritability and sleeplessness. Ideally, at least half of our diet should consist of unprocessed foods.
- Avoid hard-to-digest foods. Excessive red meat, alcohol, white bread, fast foods, fatty or fried items and sugary snacks and desserts require the stomach and liver to work overtime, thus potentially interfering with sleep.
- Monitor your B vitamin levels, including B-6 and B-12. In order for the body to effectively convert dietary tryptophan into serotonin, the body requires a sufficient supply of vitamin B-6. Note: Remember that vitamins used for medicinal reasons require medical oversight.
- Calcium and magnesium. These vital nutrients relax the muscles of the digestive tract and decrease digestive irritability.
- Avoid spicy foods. such as dishes with ingredients such as curry, cumin, cardamom and hot peppers which stimulate GI activity. It's best to enjoy these dishes for lunch - not dinner.
- Don't eat too close to bedtime. On average, the stomach takes between two and four hours to empty its contents after eating. A full stomach works best in an upright position.
Take a brief, moderately hot bath just before bed. Taking a hot bath just before going to bed raises your peripheral temperature, causing your core temperature to drop -- which helps you fall asleep. Just make sure the bath water isn't too hot, because this could raise your core temperature.
Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature & keep your sleeping environment as dark as possible. Sleep is controlled in part by the hormone melatonin. The brain secretes melatonin only in darkness, which is why it's important to keep your bedroom dark while sleeping -- the darker, the better.
- Put up light-blocking curtains or blinds, or wear a sleep mask, if needed. If you have to get up in the middle of the night, use a low-intensity nightlight to guide your way, rather than switching on the overhead lights. Turning on a bright light signals your brain to stop secreting melatonin.
Don't spend too much time in bed. When you stay too long in bed, your sleep actually becomes more fragmented and disturbed. If you need eight hours of sleep, spend no more than eight and a half hours in bed. Even if you didn't sleep well the night before, avoid going to bed early to "catch up" on sleep. Instead, go to bed and get up at your usual time.
If you wake up during the night, keep your eyes closed. When people wake in the middle of the night, the first thing they usually do is look at the clock. Lifting your head and opening your eyes is enough to take you out of transitional sleep into a full waking state, making it harder to fall asleep again. Instead, keep your bedroom clock out of sight. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don't open your eyes. This will make it much easier for you to drift back to sleep.
Don't lie in bed tossing and turning. If you can't drop off to sleep, get out of bed and stay up until you're sleepy enough to fall asleep. You may feel tired the next day -- but over time, this approach has been found to be very effective in establishing a restful sleep pattern.
Avoid naps during the daytime. If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep at night, a nap during the day will only aggravate the problem.
Try a relaxing massage!
Possible Causes & Solutions:
Studies have shown that the body produces Melatonin at night or in the dark. When it is released into the body, tiredness and eventually sleep occurs.
Other studies have concluded that Melatonin is reduced, as we get older. What this means is that the elderly have more chance of suffering from insomnia than one of a younger age. Winters' gloom also causes the body's melatonin to increase at night, resulting in difficulty of getting and staying asleep.
Studies at the National Institute of Health shows that 20 minutes of exosure to sunlight for two consecutive mornings can restore proper melatonin production. But since it is not alays possible to get sunshine during the winter, consider installing a full-spectrum bulb in at least one of your home's lighting fixtres (ideally in a room where you spend most of your morning time). A cumulative two hours of daily exposure to this type of illumination (which most closely mimics natural sunlight) has been shown to improve the body's melatonin's balance in as little as two weeks.
- Full-spectrum bulbs should emit a clear, bright (not blue) light. Click here for further information and relevant products.
Often times, a physician will prescribe an insomnia hormone in order for the person suffering to get the proper amount of sleep. It is important to understand that the insomnia hormone cannot be thought of as a cure for insomnia it is only a treatment. It is crucial that you see your physician in order to rule out any underlying problems.
Reduce or eliminate coffee:
Caffeine is a habit-forming drug. While it keeps you invigorated on nonetheless lethargic mornings, it will likewise keep you from having some much-needed sleep at night. Because of disturbed sleep, you'll be craving sleep again the next day, not to mention jumpy and touchy and you'll stagger towards the coffeemaker the first chance you get.
Avoid alcohol near bedtime
Alcohol acts as a sedative when it first enters your bloodstream -- but several hours later, when it leaves your bloodstream, it actually has the reverse effect of making you more wakeful. If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep, you should avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages after dinner. If you have trouble falling asleep in the first place, then you may need to forgo drinks with dinner as well, since their "waking effect" will coincide with your bedtime.
- Valerian root: is "the safest and most effective sleep aid with no side effects," according to British scientist turned herbal guru Dr. Malcolm Stuart, who says the best time to drink it would be around 8 PM. Thirty minutes before taking to bed, use one to two teaspoons of the dried root to make a sleep-inducing tea. Unlike sleep aids, valerian causes no heavy feeling the day after. And as opposed to its counterpart synthetic cures, which may bring on an addiction, you will not develop a dependency on this herb.
- Catnip: Not only is this herb used as a answer to insomnia, but it is also thought to be a solution to nervousness, anxiety, and even migraines. The administration of catnip is again similar to valerian--one to two teaspoons of the dried herb for one cup of boiled water and set aside to infuse for around ten minutes. Do not boil the herb along with the water as this may destroy some of its active ingredients.
- Chamomile is milder and is recommended for children to take, more so when they are restless. The usual dosage is two teaspoons of dried chamomile flower for a cup of tea.
- Lavender also makes for a very soothing drink at night (three flower heads to one cup of boiling water, immersed like catnip), and taking a whiff of a few drops of its oil or mixing it with your bath water has the same soothing effect. It may also be rubbed onto your body during a massage and its flowers and seeds stuffed into your pillows.
- Cistus Canadensis: (Boericke’s (Rock Rose) - Effective for sleeplessness and itching. Extremely sensitive to cold and sensation of coldness in various parts. For spongy feeling in throat, hawking of mucous, heat and itching in throat. For relief of tumors in neck. Cool feeling in stomach before and after eating. Coldness in chest. Cold feet.
- Arnica Montana: (Boericke’s (Leopard’s Bane) - Useful for nervousness, bearing pain and over sensitivity. Research has shown this remedy to be especially suited to cases when any injury, however remote, seems to have caused the present trouble. A powerful acting remedy for many physical symptoms: limbs and body aches as if beaten and for joints that feel sprained; great relief for chronic vertigo; relieves violent, spasmodic coughs, pneumonia and acute tonsillitis; for relief of sleeplessness and restlessness when overtired; distended abdomen; diarrhea; sore nipples; stitches in heart, pulse feeble and irregular; gout; bed sores; and coldness of feet and hands.
You might try mixing an herbal cocktail, such as blending valerian with chamomile, catnip, or some other mild herbs.. Add a small amount of the natural sweetener stevia, if you like.
- Essential Oils (for aroma therapy): Lavender Essential Oil
Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.
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