Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. It occurs when you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep even though you had the opportunity to get a full night of sleep. The causes, symptoms and severity of insomnia vary from person to person. Insomnia may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
- Waking up too early in the morning
Insomnia involves both a sleep disturbance and daytime symptoms. The effects of insomnia can impact nearly every aspect of your life. Studies show that insomnia negatively affects work performance, impairs decision-making and can damage relationships. In most cases, people with insomnia report a worse overall quality of life.
Everyone has the occasional night of poor sleep. In many cases this is due to staying up too late or waking up too early. This does not mean you have insomnia, it means you didn’t get enough sleep.
As many as 30 to 35 percent of adults complain of insomnia. It is more common in groups such as older adults, women, people under stress and people with certain medical and mental health problems such as depression
There are two types of insomnia based on the regularity and duration of the sleep disturbance and daytime symptoms:
- Short-term insomnia: This type of brief insomnia lasts for up to three months. It occurs in 15 to 20 percent of people.
- Chronic insomnia: This type of insomnia occurs at least three times per week and lasts for at least three months. About 10 percent of people have chronic insomnia.
Symptoms & Causes
Symptoms and causes of insomnia are different for every patient. Insomnia symptoms may include:
- Problems with attention, concentration or memory (cognitive impairment)
- Poor performance at school or work
- Moodiness or irritability
- Daytime sleepiness
- Impulsiveness or aggression
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Errors or accidents
- Concern or frustration about your sleep
Insomnia is most often associated with another problem. Insomnia that is not caused or worsened by other factors is rare. These factors may include:
Many physical illnesses can cause insomnia. People who experience pain, discomfort or limited mobility from medical problems may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia due to medical conditions is most common in older adults because people tend to have more chronic health problems as they age. Conditions such as pregnancy, particularly the third trimester, and menopause can cause sleep problems. The severity and duration of insomnia often varies with the related health condition.
The relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. Insomnia is sometimes caused by a mental health disorder. Often a mental health disorder will be found after a complaint of insomnia. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States and a frequent cause of insomnia. People with depression often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Difficulty falling asleep is also common in people with anxiety disorders. Other mood disorders such as bipolar disorder may also cause sleep problems.
This varies from relatively minor things like work or personal stress, to more severe changes such as death, divorce or job loss.
Other sleep disorders
Some sleep disorders can cause insomnia or make it worse. For instance, people with restless legs syndrome may have a hard time falling asleep.
Medication or substance use or abuse
Insomnia can be an unwanted side effect of many prescription or over-the-counter medications. Common cold and allergy medicines contain pseudoephedrine and can make it difficult to fall asleep. Antidepressants and medications to treat ADHD, high blood pressure or Parkinson’s disease can also cause insomnia.
Drinking alcohol before bedtime can cause frequent awakenings during the night. Insomnia also can occur if you suddenly stop using a sleeping pill.
Caffeine and other stimulants can prevent you from falling asleep. Stimulants also cause frequent awakenings during the night.
Some people are sensitive to certain foods and may be allergic to them. This can result in insomnia and disrupted sleep.
The environment where you sleep can cause insomnia. Disruptive factors such as noise, light or extreme temperatures can interfere with sleep. Sleeping with a bed partner who snores also can cause sleep disruption. Extended exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals may prevent you from being able to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Habits or lifestyles
Irregular sleep schedules can cause insomnia in workers who try to sleep during the day.
Diagnosis & Self-Tests
If you think you may have insomnia, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it take you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or do you wake up during the night and have trouble returning to sleep, or do you wake up earlier than desired?
- Do you have daytime symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, sleepiness or reduced energy?
- Do you give yourself enough time in bed to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night?
- Do you go to bed in a safe, dark and quiet environment that should allow you to sleep well?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you may have insomnia.
If you’ve had insomnia for at least three months (chronic insomnia), You should go to Visit your Doctor. If you have had insomnia for fewer than three months, you may have short-term insomnia. Try to follow good sleep hygiene, and if the problem does not go away in three months, talk to a sleep physician.
Natural Remedies & Knowledge
Calcium and Magnesium
Calcium and Magnesium are both sleep boosters, and when taken together, they become even more effective. Plus, by taking magnesium, you cancel out any potential heart problems that might arise from taking calcium alone.
Quality Food Sources of Calcium
|Food||Calcium in milligrams||Serving Size||% of Daily Value|
|Almonds||75||1 oz (24 nuts)||8%|
|Cabbage, Chinese (cooked)||158||1 cup||16%|
|Cheese (firm, such as cheddar, mozzarella, provolone or swiss)||~200||1 ounce||20%|
|Cheese (hard such as parmesan or pecorino)||~331||1 ounce||33%|
|Collard Greens (cooked)||268||1 cup||27%|
|Cottage Cheese (2% milkfat)||206||1 cup||21%|
|Figs, dried||124||4 figs||12%|
|Kale (cooked)||179||1 cup||10%|
|Milk (whole)||276||1 cup||28%|
|Mustard Greens (cooked)||165||1 cup||17%|
|Salmon (canned)||181||3 ounces||18%|
|Salmon (canned with bones)||212||3 ounces||21%|
|Sardines (with bones)||325||3 ounces||33%|
|Sesame Seeds||351||¼ cup||35%|
|Sesame Seed Butter (tahini)||128||2 tbsp||13%|
|Spinach (cooked)||245||1 cup||24%|
|Spices (cinnamon, cumin, basil, oregano, parsley, black pepper)||26-52||2 tsp||2.5% – 5%|
|Swiss Chard (cooked)||101||1 cup||10%|
|Yogurt (plain, full-fat)||296||1 cup||30%|
Quality Food Sources of Magnesium
|Food||Magnesium in milligrams||Serving Size||% of Daily Value|
|Brazil Nuts||125||¼ cup||31%|
|Dark Chocolate||95||1 ounce||24%|
|Fish (mackerel, halibut, cod)||100||4 ounces||25%|
|Flax Seeds||55||2 tbsp||14%|
|Potato (with skin)||52||medium potato||13%|
|Pumpkin Seeds||191||¼ cup||48%|
|Sesame Seeds||126||¼ cup||32%|
|Spinach (cooked)||157||1 cup||39%|
|Sunflower Seeds||157||¼ cup||39%|
|Swiss Chard||151||1 cup||38%|
If you’ve suffered anxiety, headaches, or muscle or joint pain, you might already be familiar with wild lettuce. It’s also effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety.
Beer fans will no doubt be familiar with the calming effect of hops, the female flowers used in beer making. For sleep purposes, though, this extract has been widely used as a mild sedative for anxiety and insomnia.
Lavender is the trick here, as studies have proven that it aids in sleep. It’s also a cheap, nontoxic way to slip into a peaceful slumber. Find a spray with real lavender and spritz it on your pillow before bedtime. Or buy a lavender-filled pillow.
Melatonin is the hormone that controls sleep, so it’s no wonder that it naturally induces sleep. Although some experts recommend taking higher doses, studies show that lower doses are more effective. Plus, there’s concern that too-high doses could cause toxicity as well as raise the risk of depression or infertility.
Yoga or Meditation
Choose gentle yoga or stretching, not vigorous power or ashtanga yoga, which could energize you instead. Try easy yoga stretches in bed followed by simple meditation. Close your eyes and, for 5 to 10 minutes, pay attention to nothing but your breathing.
This amino acid comes from green tea and not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night. However, green tea doesn’t contain enough L-theanine to significantly boost your REM cycles.
Valerian is one of the most common sleep remedies for insomnia. Numerous studies have found that valerian improves deep sleep, speed of falling asleep, and overall quality of sleep. However, it’s most effective when used over a longer period of time. One caveat? About 10% of the people who use it actually feel energized, which may keep them awake. If that happens to you, take valerian during the day. Otherwise, take 200 to 800 milligrams before bed.
Relax and let go everything else… Health is Wealth