Insomnia is a condition that describes individuals who have difficulty sleeping, or find it hard to fall or stay asleep. As a result these individuals have trouble functioning during the daytime due to the lack of adequate sleep.
In chronic cases it may lead to problems with concentration, irritability, depression and an increased risk of heart disease.
When insomnia occurs without a known cause it is called Primary Insomnia. In cases where a known medical, environmental or psychiatric cause is known, it is termed Secondary Insomnia.
There are many causes of secondary insomnia ranging from drug/medication use, depression and various medical conditions.
Often people have unrealistic exceptions for sleeping. Not everyone needs to have 8-hours sleep per night. This is especially true of the elderly, who may resort too quickly to sleeping tablets or sedatives that have long-term risks of dependence.
In the case of secondary insomnia, addressing the cause rather than the symptom is essential.
Some natural tips for a better nights sleep:
- Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as coffee and nicotine.
- Exercise can help with sleep, but vigorous exercise shortly before bed should be avoided.
- Keep bed for sleeping or intimate times with your partner. Do not watch TV in bed.
- Keep a notebook on your bedside table, in case you have thoughts or ideas in your head that you can’t let go of. Writing them down can release then from your mind, making it easier to sleep.
- Don’t eat too late at night
- Keep a regular sleep routine
- Melatonin has been shown to be effective, and has the added bonus of not interrupting the sleep cycle like most sleeping tablets.
- Natural supplements such as Valerian, Chamomile and Lavender may be helpful. So to may amino acids such as L-Arginine and L-Glycine
- Stretch and/or meditate before bed
- Go to sleep when you are tired. Sometimes you might push through initial fatigue and get your ‘second wind’. It’s important to be in synch with your natural biorhythms.