Veterinarian Reviewed on January 13, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Insomnia is also called sleeplessness which is defined as a person’s inability to sleep due to several factors. Insomnia is considered a sign and a symptom; it can be present in some medical conditions as well as a health condition on its own. It can be a person’s complaint of inability to fall asleep, inability to initiate sleep or inability to maintain sleep.
Chronic insomnia may cause several impairments in daytime functioning due to stress and anxiety and thus must be relieved as soon as possible.
Causes of Insomnia
There are many factors that can result to insomnia and here are the most common ones:
- The use of stimulants like certain medications, herbal remedies, nicotine, caffeine and some illegal drugs can cause temporary or chronic cases of insomnia.
- A syndrome called the “Restless Leg Syndrome” can cause insomnia. This condition is very uncomfortable with numbing and tingling sensations on the leg causing a person sleepless nights. Condition is aggravated when person is lying down and when he feels anxious over insomnia.
- Any episode of pain can reduce a person’s ability to initiate sleep. A person may feel acute stabbing pains or chronic pains that can cause severe chronic insomnia as well.
- Hormone imbalance which is present during menopause can also cause sleeplessness. Menopause has horrible symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, abdominal pain and sometimes depression that can cause temporary insomnia.
- Some illnesses like hyperthyroidism and hypertension can cause insomnia.
- Life changing events that cause stress and anxiety can cause insomnia. A death of a family member or a close friend, a loss of property, a failed relationship and adjustment problems all contribute to sleeplessness and ultimately insomnia.
- Noise and an environment not fit for sleeping can cause temporary insomnia and if not resolved, can cause chronic cases of insomnia.
- Too much physical stimulation before sleep like exercise, cardio workout and sometimes sexual stimulation can cause insomnia.
- Disruptive sleep events like nightmares, night terrors and sleepwalking can also lead to insomnia, anxiety and even altered health conditions.
Treatments of Insomnia
Overall, insomnia may be treated through taking medications that can suppress the activity of the nervous system, inducing calmness and reducing anxiety to initiate sleep. Prescription medications may consist of benzodiazepines, opioids, antidepressants, melatonin and even alcohol. These medications, although very effective, may cause side effects and may even lead to dependence if not monitored closely. Therefore, a non pharmacological approach to reduce insomnia must be done.
Reducing stress before sleeping can totally increase a person’s chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Avoiding a heavy meal, stimulating activities, caffeine, nicotine and any activity related to work should be done. The bedroom must be conducive to sleeping; mattresses must be comfortable, lighting must be adequate, noise must be minimal and all entertainment equipment removed like television, radio, computer and gaming consoles.
Taking supplements and foods rich in tryptophan like milk, tuna, turkey and salmon can help induce sleepiness and may help solve insomnia.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan