Insomnia is a reasonably prevalent sleeping disorder. Insomnia can mean the failure to fall asleep (onset insomnia) or to stay asleep (maintenance insomnia). Sleep deficiency can significantly decrease one’s quality of life, but may also increase the risk of various health problems such as anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
Acute insomnia can persist for several days or weeks, often in response to a stressful life experience. Chronic insomnia, which lasts at least three days per week for three months or more, can produce profound long-term effects on one’s health. Insomnia may occur without any obvious underlying cause or may be due to a comorbid condition such as chronic pain that makes it challenging to sleep.
Why do I have insomnia?
- In women, hormonal changes from menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can add to sleeping problems
- Advanced age
- Mental health problems for example anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder
- Physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and urinary and respiratory problems
- Certain medications e.g decongestants, chemotherapy drugs, and beta-agonists
- Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
- Excess stress levels
- Working in shifts
How can I treat Insomnia naturally?
- Improve sleeping habits
- Minimize light and noise when trying to sleep
- Avoid large meals before bedtime
- Avoid bedtime activities not related to sleep
- Sleep restriction therapy
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy
- Relaxation therapies
- Melatonin is a hormone that is extremely correlated with the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Low levels of melatonin have been tied to insomnia and supplementation may further improve sleep.
- L-tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin and serotonin. Supplementation may improve melatonin production to assist sleep and may help relieve some kinds of depression.
- Magnesium assists in regulating the body’s circadian rhythm.
- Higher zinc levels in the body may be associated with longer periods of sleep. Oral supplementation of zinc can enhance sleep quality and duration.
- Valerian is a sedative herb that has been utilised since ancient times to manage insomnia. A study comparing valerian supplementation to a regularly prescribed tranquillizer found similar efficacy.
- Ashwagandha is a herb known to reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep.
- Lemon balm has been known to enhance mood and aid in feelings of calmness. Lemon balm, solely or in combination with valerian, may also promote sleep and reduce symptoms of insomnia.
- Aromatherapy with lavender essential oil may enhance sleep quality and decrease feelings of drowsiness after waking.
What medications are used in treating insomnia?
- Over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines for occasional use
- Benzodiazepines e.g Xanax and Valium
- Benzodiazepine-like medications e.g Ambien
- Antidepressants with sedative properties e.g Silenor
There are numerous treatment options for insomnia, you just need to figure out which option is best for you.