Sleeplessness, also known as insomnia, is a very common sleep disorder. Individuals suffering from sleeplessness have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both.
This means that they end up not getting enough sleep or not getting quality sleep and they don’t feel refreshed when they wake up.
Sleeplessness can be an acute, or short-term, problem or a chronic, or ongoing, one. Short term insomnia is the most common and is typically brought on by situations such as family pressures, work pressures, or even a traumatic event. Typically, acute sleeplessness will last for days or weeks.
On the other hand, chronic sleeplessness lasts for a month or longer. In most cases, chronic sleeplessness is considered secondary because it is a symptom/side effect of something else.
Certain medical disorders, sleep problems, and substances contribute to secondary sleeplessness.
Primary sleeplessness, however, isn’t a result of medical problems, medications, or other substances. It is a disorder all on its own and the cause isn’t well understood. Many times, life changes could trigger primary sleeplessness.
Not getting enough sleep or not getting quality sleep can cause you to be sleepy during the day time and have an overall lack of energy. Additionally, it can cause you to feel anxious, irritable, or depressed.
You will likely have problems focusing, learning, paying attention, and remembering things- which will keep you from performing at your best at school or at work.
Sleeplessness can also cause more serious problems- such as, you could feel drowsy while driving, which could cause an accident.
Who Suffers from Sleeplessness?
As mentioned, sleeplessness is very common. Women are affected much more often than men. This condition can occur at any age, but older adults are much more likely to suffer from sleeplessness than younger individuals.
Additionally, studies have shown that young to middle-aged African Americans could be at a greater risk for sleeplessness.
Research has proven that it takes African Americans much longer to fall asleep than Caucasian Americans and they have much lighter sleep cycles, take more naps, and don’t sleep as well.
Problems with breathing during sleep are much more common in African Americans.
Individuals who could be at a greater risk for sleeplessness include the following:
- Those with high stress levels
- Those who are experiencing depression or other emotional stress
- Those with lower incomes
- Those who work at night or work shift-work
- Those who travel frequently to other time zones.
- Those suffering from certain medical conditions or sleep disorders
- Those who have an inactive lifestyle
Natural Sleep Remedies
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in your body to regulate the sleep/wake cycle of your brain. It is produced from serotonin when your exposure to light decreases at night.
Melatonin supplements are widely recommended for many sleep disorders. It is usually used for sleep problems related to aging, jet lag, delayed sleep-phase disorder, and affective disorders such as depression.
Regularly practicing meditation can help promote sleep by slowing down your breathing and reducing the levels of stress hormones.
This is a technique that involved directing one’s attention to something specific, such as breathing, or a particular sound or word, increasing focus on the present, calming the mind and relaxing the body. Following are some types of meditation:
- Visualization: actively visualizing a scene that is relaxing- involves all of your senses.
- Relaxation: response of the mind/body after following instructions given
- Mindfulness: actively focusing on the here and now
Evidence has shown that meditation might improve sleep, but more research is necessary.
This is a state in which an individual us much more focused, more aware, and even open to suggestions. It’s not really understood exactly how it works, but it might be effective at bringing on the physiological changes in the body to promote sleep.
Some studies show that hypnosis could decrease the time it takes an individual to fall asleep, as well as increase the duration and quality of sleep.
For centuries, the essential oil, English Lavender has been used as a folk remedy to promote sleep. It is one of the essential oils that is the most soothing.
Some studies have revealed that English Lavender could lengthen sleep time, increase the deep sleep phase, and help people to feel more refreshed upon waking.
It has been said that it works better for women than men- perhaps because women typically have a better sense of smell.
If you have difficulty falling asleep at night or have what is referred to as “delayed sleep phase syndrome,” you may need to be exposed to more light in the morning.
Exposure to light plays a critical role in telling your body when to sleep and when to wake up. Taking a walk outside or some light therapy for about 30 minutes could help.
However, if you wake up too early in the mornings or have what is referred to as “advanced sleep phase syndrome,” you need more exposure to light in the afternoon. Consider taking a walk outside or some light therapy for 2-3 hours in the evening.
We all know that diet plays a key role in everything having to do with our bodies. A healthy diet can do wonders for our body and mind. Following are some things to keep in mind if you’re dealing with sleeplessness.
1- Limit Alcohol, Caffeine, and Nicotine- both caffeine and nicotine can cause sleep disturbances.
You should look for hidden sources of caffeine, such as cold medicine, chocolate, and other OTC medications. Additionally, alcohol can cause you to have problems falling or staying asleep.
2- Sugar- though it’s true that sugar can give you a burst of energy, it’s short lived and causes you to have uneven blood sugar levels, which can cause disturbances in your sleep as your blood sugar level drops.
3- Choose Foods that Promote Sleep- tryptophan is an amino acid that leads to serotonin, which is then processed into melatonin. Before bedtime, eat snacks such as whole grain crackers.
You can also eat foods that are high in Vitamin B6 such as sunflower seeds, bananas, and wheat germ, as these enhance the conversion of the tryptophan.
4- Eat Foods Rich in Magnesium- this is a natural sedative and a magnesium deficiency can cause you to have difficulty sleeping as well as host of other problems.
In addition, don’t eat too late at night, unless you’re eating something that will promote sleep. You don’t want the digestion process to keep you up.
Yoga originated in Indian philosophy and is described as the union of the body, mind, and spirit. It is a system of breathing, relaxation, healing, and exercise.
Studies have shown that yoga improves the quality and the quantity of sleep after eight weekly sessions of 30 minutes each.
This is an herbal home remedy that is brewed as a tea or taken as a supplement. It is commonly used to improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
Though more research is necessary to explore the effect on sleep, some studies have shown no difference between those taking valerian and those taking a placebo. On the other hand, some studies have revealed that sleep quality is increased with valerian.
This is an herbal supplement and tea that claims to reduce anxiety and calm nerves, which helps with sleeplessness related to anxiety. Lemon balm also seems to reduce agitation, fatigue, guilt, and hyperexcitation.
It has been said that acupuncture could possibly help with insomnia. One study found that five weeks of acupuncture treatments increased melatonin levels and improved the amount of sleep patients were getting.