By Neepa Sevak
"I can't sleep!" These three words can explain nights of restless anguish for those who suffer from insomnia. An occasional night without much sleep is normal, but when it continues night after night, a vicious cycle can begin that can be exhausting and extremely frustrating. Insomnia is not defined by the number of hours you sleep every night. The amount of sleep a person needs varies. While most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, some people do well with less, and some need more. But, if you feel that you do not get satisfying sleep, you may have insomnia, a sleep disorder.
Sleep is very essential for the well-being of mind and body. Not only does sleep provide needed time for rest to restore energy and allow the body to renew itself, but your mind needs sleep as well, in order to process the events and stresses of the previous day and to dream. An untreated sleep disorder can lead to a form of psychosis, with delusions and hallucinations. It can also reduce your daytime productivity by affecting co-ordination, reaction time, and judgement. Lack of sleep also can increase your risk of accidents, and put you at risk for illness and even early death.
Types of Insomnia
There are mainly two types of insomnia:
- Acute Insomnia: This runs its course in a few weeks or months and ends without treatment.
- Chronic Insomnia: This lasts longer than three months and requires treatment.
Causes of Insomnia
Some conditions that commonly lead to insomnia are:
- Certain physical conditions like: the need to urinate frequently, any illness causing pain or difficulty breathing can interfere with both sleep onset and sleep maintenance.
- Watching exciting programs on television late at night.
- Consuming excessive caffeine, alcohol or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
- Vigorous exercise less than three hours before bedtime may disturb sleep patterns.
- In the majority of insomnia cases, however, the main problem is emotional – worry, anxiety, arguments or depression.
- Paradoxically, insomnia may result from the use of a sedative prescribed to relieve it.
- Some people, especially the elderly or those working at night or traveling across time zones, develop a reverse sleep pattern: drowsiness in the morning, sleep during the day and wakefulness at night.
- Hormonal changes during menstrual cycle and menopause.
- Sleeping besides a partner that snores too loud.
Symptoms of Insomnia
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early
- Unrefreshing sleep
- It can cause other problems during the day such as sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability
Homeopathic Approach to the Treatment of Insomnia
Homeopathic remedies are made from natural substances like coffee, strychnine and arsenic that cause wakefulness in healthy people. When prepared in minute, potentised doses, and prescribed according to the principle of “like cures like”, they can cure insomnia. When treating chronic insomnia, Homeopathy treats the whole person, rather than just the specific symptom of sleeplessness. What actually should be treated is not the sleeplessness. This is what is done in homeopathy and not in any other form of treatment. A homeopath, while taking the case history, tries to determine the anxiety factor in the patient. Thus the result is total freedom from tensions, worries and anxiety, which further treats Insomnia.
The treatment is very individual for everyone and deals with insomnia as a mind-body connection. It will promote relaxation by soothing your nerves and calming irritability, anxiety and stress hence encouraging restful sleep. The goal of this Homeopathic approach is to enliven the body's natural healing and self-repair ability to not only help cure insomnia, but also to treat the underlying condition and to prevent it and create the highest state of health and well-being. Homeopathic remedies are also non–habit forming and have no addictive characteristics.
Self Care Measures
Along with homeopathic medicines following some simple sleep hygiene measures will help promote a restful sleep:
- Establish a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up. Avoid daytime naps.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine late in the day as they are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol may help sleep onset, but cause early morning wakefulness.
- Avoid vigorous exercise within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Taking a mild walk or performing yoga before going to bed might help.
- Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. However, a light snack at bedtime may promote sleep.
- Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature and minimize light and noise.
- Follow a routine to help relax before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a warm bath.
- Drink a warm cup of milk before going to bed. Milk contains an amino acid that boosts serotonin in the brain, and enhances sleep.
- Don’t use your bedroom as a place to work.
- Relaxation techniques, meditation and sexual intercourse have a relaxing effect for many people.
Adequate sleep is essential to health and peak performance as much as exercise and good nutrition. Hence, to get relieve from sleeplessness and to promote a restful sleep with the help of a safe, natural, effective and non-addictive treatment consider homeopathy.