What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a general term that describes the inability to fall asleep. The inability to get a good night’s sleep can result from waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble getting back to sleep. Insomnia can be a temporary, occasional, or chronic problem.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
Common symptoms of insomnia include difficult falling back asleep when you wake up, having to rely on sleep aids or alcohol to sleep, difficulty concentrating during the day, and daytime drowsiness, irritability, or fatigue.
What causes insomnia?
Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. Some are psychological and some are environmental. Circadian rhythms, the biological clock that tells the body when to eat or sleep, can also affect the quality of sleep. Shift work can cause a dramatic stress to the circadian rhythm, which can take months to correct. Some other common causes of insomnia include:
• food allergies
• seasonal allergies
• psychological stress
• poor digestion
• poor diet (especially sugar, spicy foods, and caffeine)
• pineal dysfunction (the gland that produces melatonin)
What can I do to help with my insomnia?
There are some things you can do to help with insomnia. Be sure to see a doctor if you think you have insomnia.
• Avoid drinking caffeine after 10 AM. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Caffeine can also remain in the body for up to 20 hours.
• Avoid sugar, especially in the evenings. Sugar causes an emergency stress reaction in the blood that can disrupt your sleep.
• Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool. Heat and light can and do interfere with sleep schedules. Try installing a black-out curtain on your bedroom window.
• Avoid strenuous activity before bedtime. Exercise is good for you, but it might keep you up at night if you go for a run right before bed. Additionally, try to avoid arguments or stressful activity before you are about to sleep.
• Put down the technology! Avoid anything with a backlight, like phones, tablets, and laptops. Try books or soft music to help you fall asleep.
Blumenthal, Mark, and Werner R. Busse. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council, 1998. Print.
Brown, Don. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health: Your Everyday Guide to Prevention, Treatment, and Care. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub., 1996. Print.
Fuerst, M. L. "Insomniacs Give up Stress and Medications." JAMA Network. 28 Jan. 1983. <http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=382466>.
Hart, Carl L., and Charles Ksir. Drugs, Society, & Human Behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.
Weil, Andrew. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-care. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990