Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Insomnia (from Latin “in” meaning “not”, and “Somnus” meaning “sleep”) is most often defined by an individual’s report of sleeping difficulties. In recent times, it has become apparent that symptoms of insomnia have dramatically increased around the world.
Are you finding it difficult getting to sleep or staying asleep?
Are you waking up in the middle of the morning feeling wide awake?
What are the types of insomnia?
Insomnia can be classified as transient, acute, or chronic.
- Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. Its consequences – sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance – are similar to those of sleep deprivation.
- Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month.
- Chronic insomnia lasts for longer than a month. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include muscular fatigue, hallucinations, and/or mental fatigue. Some people that live with this disorder see things as if they are happening in slow motion, wherein moving objects seem to blend together. Can cause double vision
What can be some causes of insomnia?
- The world is in the midst of a massive spiritual awakening. Increasingly new high vibrational energies are pouring down onto earth and through our beings. Our bodies continually adjust to the new frequencies which can create a multitude of symptoms. One symptom being insomnia.
- The use of psychoactive drugs (such as stimulants), including certain medications, herbs, caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines, methylphenidate & MDMA
- Pain – An injury or condition that causes pain can preclude an individual from finding a comfortable position in which to fall asleep, and can in addition cause awakening.
- Hormone shifts such as those that precede menstruation and those during menopause
- Life events such as fear, stress, anxiety, emotional or mental tension, work problems, financial stress, birth of a child and bereavement.
- Mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, dementia or excessive alcohol intake
- Certain neurological disorders, brain lesions, or a history of traumatic brain injury
- Medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis
- Abuse of over-the counter or prescription sleep aids can produce rebound insomnia
- Poor sleep hygiene, e.g., noise
Side Effects of Chronic Insomnia
Physical Lethargy – The effects of insomnia on the body are very noticeable. Usually people complain that they lack physical energy and are more physically tired than people who get a normal night’s sleep.
Psychological Changes – You may notice that you are not able to think with as much clarity as you used to. Insomniacs usually are not able to get adequate R.E.M. sleep (which helps refresh the brain). You may be more irritable than usual and could feel: stress, anxiety, and/or depression during the day.
Negative Personality – You may notice that as your insomnia becomes more severe, you become unhappy with your personality changes. A lot of people that are insomniacs are more irritable, angry, and have mood swings more often than people who sleep well during the night.
Behaviour Changes – You may develop less productive behavioural patterns and feel way less motivated to do simple tasks. Most people experience some shifts in their ability to get work done productively.
Natural Remedies For Insomnia
Have you ever tried any natural remedies for insomnia? Most of them work surprisingly well, and many are actually free. You don’t even need to go to the store to buy a supplement to help you sleep better. However, you will need to take the time to do some work on yourself by changing some old habits and integrating newer, healthier habits.
1. Visualization – Simply closing your eyes for at least 20 minutes and imagining yourself relaxing will help you physically relax. It may help you to play some relaxing, ambient music, nature sounds, or white noise during this process, but those details are up to you. I visualize daily and I always feel relaxed afterwards. It definitely will help you fall asleep quicker if you have insomnia.
2. Cardio Exercises – If you do a hard cardiovascular workout for at least 1 hour daily, you are going to burn off the energy that would normally be bottled up inside of you when you go to bed. Cardio exercise is among the elite natural remedies for insomnia in children as well as adults. Nearly everyone can do some form of cardio – whether it’s playing soccer, running, rollerblading, or doing a tough beach body workout. If you burn calories and tire yourself out, you will be too tired to stay awake.
3. Eliminating Things From Your Diet – Many natural remedies for insomnia in adults and children can be gotten right from a healthy diet. If you are eating healthy foods, they will provide your brain with vital nutrients and give it what is needed to help you fall asleep at night. If you are loading up on caffeine and drinking alcohol consistently, you are likely going to struggle with insomnia. Cut out the unhealthy foods, drinks, and drugs, and you will improve – but the improvement is not going to be overnight; it may take a few months, but it will be well worth it.
4. Stay away from drugs and alcohol – If you are able to stay away from things like cigarettes and alcohol; this is probably the best way to cure insomnia symptoms quickly. If you are in college and feel like you should be enjoying yourself with these substances, think about the damage that you are doing to your body. Then ask yourself whether you want to go ahead with the damage. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people that don’t drink or do drugs around campus if you look around.
5. Avoid caffeine – Many people drink caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee, and energy drinks late at night and wonder why they have insomnia. Use some common sense and stay away from things like this if you want to get a better night’s sleep. It is recommended to stay away from these products altogether; just cut them from your diet and see if it makes a difference after a couple weeks.
6. Try Melatonin – This is arguably the best home remedy for insomnia. Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound supplement that can help you cure your insomnia. When your sleep cycle gets thrown off of its natural course, you become melatonin-deficient when it’s time to go to bed – this results in insomniac tendencies. Try taking some melatonin supplements to see if they help you get more restful sleep.
7. Valerian Herb – This is a less common herbal solution for insomnia that people use to help them get sleep. Some people swear by taking this, while others don’t find it to be effective. The easiest way to find out whether it works is to give it a try for yourself.
For expert advise seek out a natural herbalist in your area. They will be able to tailor specific requirements to suit your circumstances. It is also important to understand any risks created from mixing herbs and medicines.
8. Hot baths/showers – Taking a hot bath and/or shower will allow your body to relax. Hot water relaxes muscles, joints, and this in turn will help calm down your racing thoughts that keep you awake and unable to sleep. Going into a hot tub and/or sauna would probably have a very similar effect.
9. Warm milk – If you drink warm milk before you got to bed, it could help you fall asleep. Scientists think that it may have something to do with the tryptophan that is naturally released in the body. Since most people have milk around, this is a very easy remedy to test out.
10. Read a Book Before Bedtime – Probably the easiest natural cure for insomnia is to simply open up a book and read. Not only will it make you smarter, but you will actually be changing your brainwaves to a slower pattern. As you get caught up in what you are reading, your mind shifts to a slower brainwave state. In comparison to surfing the internet or talking on your phone (which will keep you awake), reading helps many people start to feel sleepy.
11. Avoid the Computer – The best thing that you can do for yourself before bed is to shut off your computer if it is distracting. Do you commonly surf the internet before bedtime? If so, you are going to keep yourself up for a longer time.
12. Turn Off Your Mobile Phone – Mobile phones are nothing more than a distraction when you are trying to fall asleep. If you take the time to turn off your phone, you won’t be preoccupied with late night texts or messages. Don’t accept calls after a certain time so that you can actually take a break from all of the chatter.
13. Turn off the TV – A lot of people watch TV before they go to sleep. Based on my own experience, I know that watching an entertaining show or movie can keep me up for a much longer time than expected. Turning off the TV will help you minimize distractions so that you can get to sleep.
14. Listen to Relaxing Music – Calming music or self hypnosis tapes work great when you are trying to get some sleep. I personally listen to a self hypnosis or guided meditation tape so that I can calm down my thoughts and drift off into a nice peaceful sleep.