Insomnia is a sleep disorder where individuals find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake frequently through the night disrupting sleep cycles, leading to stress and fatigue. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorders, and WHO reports show that one-third of all adults report insomnia symptoms. A disorder is when an individual faces sleep difficulties on a weekly basis that persists for months, and seriously disables their daily functions. Chronic Insomnia, that continues for more than 3 months, can cause:
mood disturbances, and
decreased performance in work or at school.
Parents of very young kids, women and older adults suffer as a group has more insomniacs. Some medical conditions that can cause insomnia are:
Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux
Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism
Neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease
Low back pain
Other causes of Insomnia include:
Certain medications including those for cough and cold, thyroid and so on
Lifestyle patterns: In recent times, lifestyle patterns has contributed majorly to sleep disorders. Long hours of online social interactions, especially continuing late into the night have added to sleeping-woes. Those who work in shifts also compromise on the quantity and quality of sleep. Non-traditional hours can confuse the body's clock, especially if one is trying to sleep during the day, or if the schedule changes periodically.Over time, insomnia left untreated, can put you at risk for health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.Improving sleepOften, taking some simple but healthy steps can improve sleep:
Avoid drinking liquids 2-3 hours before sleep so you are not awakened for bladder relief
Keep the television and computer out of the bedroom
Avoid e-devices at least an hour before bedtime.
Follow the same sleep schedule everyday including on weekends
Avoid after-meals afternoon naps
Exercising is important for sleeping well but doing it very close to bedtime over-activates the body and skews up the body-clock
Avoid smoking, drinking or big, spicy meals at night.
Create a bedtime ritual: make the bed, dim the lights, maintain a comfortable temperature, wear soothing night clothes, play white sound in the background and so on.
Eat right. Sleep tight.Some foods help keep sleep-snatchers away. Here’s a list of them:
Milk - a small cup of warm milk induces a nice sleepy buzz. It’s also an instant antidote for acid reflux so all’s win-win.
Healthy carbs - A couple of whole-wheat crackers or a roti or two can make you hit the sack in a jiffy.
Cheese - contains tryptophan that aids the body to feel relaxed and sleepy (so avoid cheese when you’ve got a heavy work day ahead).
Cherries - a recent study showed that drinking two glasses of cherry juice daily gave insomniacs and additional 90 minutes of sleep time.
Herbal infusions of chamomile tea, kashmiri kava, valerian root and California Poppy, sipped just before bedtime can give restful sleep.
Going beyond the holistic approachTraditional western methods are widely used for treating Insomnia. Louise Hay, motivational leader and empowerment coach who has done pathbreaking work in supporting HIV/AIDS patients and their families, has said that, “Illness however mild or severe is an indicator of your emotional state, caused by your thoughts and focus.” According to her, the main cause of Insomnia is : Fear. Not trusting the process of life. Guilt. One way of healing this is through saying or writing affirmations. Doing this regularly can help to reduce the debilitating effects of this illness.Her affirmation for healing Insomnia is: I love and approve of myself and I trust in the process of life. I am safe. Other alternative therapies that have also given good results for treating this disorder are: Aromatherapy, Dr. Bach Flower Remedies, Meditation, Acupressure