What is Insomnia?
Every human being needs at least 7 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep for a healthy mind and a healthy body. Insomnia is one of the sleep disorders when a person finds it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Insomnia is a common sleep problem that can be short-term or long-term. Short-term Insomnia may last for a few days and gets back to a regular sleep pattern. Long-term Insomnia is a condition that lasts for more than a month. Insomnia may be a primary health problem, or it may occur due to other underlying health problems.
For the proper functioning of the body and mind at its best, the right amount of sleep and a regular sleep schedule is essential. The quality of sleep is as necessary as the quantity of sleep. A restless sleep with lots of tossing, turning, and repeated awakening is as bad for the health as being unable to fall asleep.
Types of Insomnia
There are two main types of Insomnia:
- Primary Insomnia: is a condition when the sleep problem is not associated with any other health condition or situation.
- Secondary Insomnia: it is a condition when the sleep problem is due to some other health problem such as asthma, GERD, depression, arthritis, chronic pain, substance abuse, etc.
Other types of Insomnia
Insomnia can also be categorized as below:
- Sleep-onset Insomnia: where a person has trouble falling asleep.
- Sleep-maintenance Insomnia: where a person has difficulty staying asleep through the night.
- Mixed Insomnia: when a person has a problem with falling and staying asleep through the night.
- Paradoxical Insomnia: when a person feels unrefreshed and feels like he has slept less than the actual duration he was asleep.
Symptoms of Insomnia
- Some of the few symptoms of Insomnia are:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
- Irritability, depression, or anxiety
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing, or remembering
- Increased errors or accidents
- Lack of concentration and memory problems
Causes of Insomnia
Many factors contribute to the gradual development of Insomnia. They may be environmental, physiological, and psychological factors such as:
- Stress: acute or chronic stress regarding life, relationships, work, school, health, finances, or family may keep the mind active with crowding of thoughts and anxiety at night, making the body and mind restless and difficult to sleep.
- Irregular work schedule: sudden changes in the sleep patterns and the sleep-wake cycle can disturb the biological clock or the circadian rhythm leading to Insomnia. Some of the causes are working shifts, night studies, traveling frequently, etc.
- Poor sleeping habits or poor sleep hygiene: Poor sleep habits such as irregular sleep schedule, daytime naps, heavy food or stimulant before bedtime, bad sleep environment, and screen watching before bed can disturb the sleep cycle.
- Unhealthy eating habits: having late dinner, taking stimulants and alcohol at bedtime, having heavy dinner before bedtime, etc., may cause heartburn, acid reflux, heaviness, and bloating while lying down, leading to discomfort and restlessness.
- Mental health disorders: like anxiety and nervous disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression can lead to Insomnia.
- Some medications: such as certain antidepressants, anti-allergic medications, medications to treat hypertension, painkillers, sedatives, etc., can disrupt the normal sleep pattern.
- Medical conditions: a few conditions associated with Insomnia are cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, heart diseases, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sleep-related disorders: Sleep apnea is a serious condition where breathing stops and starts periodically during sleep. One of the other sleep-related conditions is the restless legs syndrome which causes constant involuntary movement in the legs preventing the person from falling asleep.
- Sometimes Insomnia may be due to hormone fluctuations during menstruation and menopause.
- Neurological disorders, such as ADHD, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease, can cause Insomnia.
Insomnia Risk Factors
Insomnia most commonly affects women and older people more than men and young people. Some of the other risk factors include:
- Chronic illness
- Mental health issues
- Working shifts
- History of psychological or physical health condition
- Stressful events
- Irregular sleep schedule
Sleep is vital for good health, as important as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Sleep is when various vital functions, metabolic activities, cell repairing and healing, etc., occur in the body. Therefore, anything that affects sleep can affect the person mentally and physically and affect the overall quality of life.
Loss of sleep can lead to:
- Lack of concentration and memory loss
- Risk of accidents
- Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
- Mood disorders
- Mental irritability
- Lower performance at work
- Good sleep hygiene and bedtime habits can help prevent Insomnia and improve the quality and quantity of sleep. A few steps can be taken to prevent Insomnia such as:
- Following a regular sleep-wake time.
- Regular exercise and physical activity help promote good sleep.
- Avoid unnecessary medications.
- Avoid daytime or midday naps.
- Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Getting to bed and waking up at the same time.
- Avoid using any device with a screen in the bed.
- Try to relax with a warm bath before sleep.
- Switch off the electronic devices before bedtime.
- Try using thick blinds or curtains to darken the room.
- Avoid going to bed hungry.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake at night.
- Have a light and healthy snack before bedtime.
- Avoid smoking.
- Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
- Keep the bedroom clean and comfortable.
- Follow a relaxing habit like reading or listening to soft music.
How is Insomnia diagnosed?
There are no particular tests to diagnose Insomnia. The diagnosis depends on the symptoms, medical history, personal history, etc. Some routine blood tests can be advised to rule out any underlying medical conditions. In addition, the specialist may ask you to maintain a sleep journal to identify the sleep pattern and the reason behind Insomnia.
Treatment of Insomnia
Most acute cases of Insomnia might not need any treatment or medications. Instead, simple lifestyle changes and adjusting the sleep schedule may solve the problem.
Avoid using over-the-counter sleeping pills for Insomnia. They might have serious side effects like accidents and daytime drowsiness, or they can lead to addiction.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy and lifestyle management can help a person identify the cause and prevent the things that make the condition worse and can help to overcome the problems with simple changes in regular daily activities.
Homeopathic medicines for Insomnia
Homeopathic medicines treat Insomnia and its underlying cause by taking a detailed study of the presentation of the symptoms, patient’s personal and previous medical history, present complaints, lifestyle, physical and emotional make-up of the person, mental state, family history, etc. Homeopathic medicines can be used to treat the symptoms of Insomnia without any harmful effects or fear of habit-forming addictions.
A homoeopathic physician tries to identify the root cause of the problem and treat it along with a person’s current symptomatology. Some of the homeopathic medicines to treat Insomnia are:
It is indicated for nervous irritability with sleeplessness and digestive troubles due to overindulgence in food, tobacco, or alcohol.
This remedy is helpful in treating Insomnia from physical and intellectual fatigue due to overexertion, with sleeplessness and headaches.
For Insomnia due to increased mental activity, overexertion, and overworking. The legs and arms feel extremely restless and they cannot lay still in bed.
It is indicated as Insomnia due to physical exertion and exhaustion. It is also useful for treating Insomnia caused due to jet lag.
It is well indicated homeopathic medicine for treating acute cases of Insomnia, which results due to fear, shock, paranoia, grief, bad news, anxiety, tension, and restlessness.
It is indicated as Insomnia when a patient feels sleepy during the daytime but cannot sleep at night. Extreme physical and mental restlessness with anxiety and fear and great apprehension about the health and future.
It is used in cases of Insomnia due to bedwetting, especially during the first phase of the night. The patient develops a fear of the dark.
Ignatia is one of the best homeopathic remedies for Insomnia due to extreme shock, grief, or emotional stress. Restless and irritable with jerking of limbs during sleep.
Insomnia from restless anxiety, mental excitement, the flow of ideas, and crowding of thoughts at night when trying to sleep. There is extreme tiredness, with a desire to lie down and sleep but unable to control the thoughts and end up wide awake. Wakes up frequently and suddenly at night.
This remedy is very helpful for Insomnia in very sensitive people. Wakes up from slight noises with jerking of limbs during sleep. Feels sleepy on reading or concentrating, but once in bed, unable to sleep. The person finds it difficult to wake up and get out of bed in the morning.
Insomnia due to intense itching of the skin and muscular spasms from the excitement that gets worse on waking up. Disturbed sleep with frequent tossing and turning. Feels anxious with confusing dreams.
Insomnia due to mental or physical exhaustion and constant worrying about loved ones or the family. It is well indicated for worn-out people who work night shifts with spasmodic yawning.
Drowsiness during the day and in the evening but difficulty falling asleep at night. It is difficult to fall asleep before midnight because of a rush of anxious thoughts and digestive problems followed by deep sleep in the morning when it’s time to wake up.
Insomnia is not a simple issue to be taken lightly. It is a sleep disorder that affects mental and emotional health leading to physical health problems. Therefore, it is essential to identify the cause and treat Insomnia as early as possible.
Insomnia can result from various physical, mental, and psychological factors. It often starts as a temporary problem due to stress, or it may be an outcome of another medical condition.
A healthy lifestyle, a proper balanced nutritious diet, and a proper sleep schedule are essential factors for the overall well-being of a person. So instead of resorting to sleeping pills, try to manage Insomnia by regularising your lifestyle, sleep pattern, and behavioural patterns. Homeopathic medicines, along with such a healthy sleep schedule, can help in a smooth transition from restless nights to true goodnights.