Claudette's Specialties: Female and Male Hormonal Imbalances, PMS, Period Pain, Fibroids, Polycystic Ovaries/Syndrome, Endometriosis, Menopause, Prostate Problems, Low Libido, Natural Fertility Management: Contraception, Overcoming Infertility Problems (females and males), Preconception Care, Sex Selection, IVF support, Pregnancy Care: Pregnancy nutrition and remedies, Miscarriage support, Birth preparation, Doula: Childbirth support, Post-natal care for mother and child.

Insomnia Keeping You Awake?



Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Insomnia often results in daytime fatigue, irritability and difficulty remembering things with an estimated 10 and 25% of the population suffering from insomnia. Chronic irritability can disrupt work and relationships, while fatigue is a factor in vehicle accidents and poor health. Groups who are particularly at risk for sleep deprivation include night shift workers, physicians, truck drivers, parents and teenagers.

Signs and Symptoms

Insomnia can be categorized into four separate conditions. Sleep onset insomnia is inability to get to sleep which may be caused by environmental factors such as central nervous system stimulants including caffeine, alcohol, smoking, irregular sleeping times and stress. It may also be caused by biological factors such as pain from an injury or illness or difficulty breathing.  Sleep rhythm insomnia is where a person is wakeful at night and sleepy during the day. This is common in shift workers, jetlag, head injuries and sleep apnoea (cessation of breathing while sleeping). Early morning awakening (EMA) is a third type of insomnia which usually has to do with mental/emotional states, such as depression, anxiety or extreme stress. Finally, sleep maintenance insomnia is difficulty remaining asleep throughout the night which again is often attributed to your mental or emotional state and stress.

Natural Remedies
Herbal medicines provide enormous relief from insomnia and help to rebalance natural sleep patterns. Valerian is the most commonly used herb for insomnia, particularly in Europewhere it is well researched and has a long traditional use. It is now supported by the World Health Organisation (1999) as treatment for restlessness and sleep disorders. Valerian is sedative, anti-spasmodic, relaxant and reduces anxiety. Mexican Valerian is best used for maintenance insomnia. Passionflower, Hops and Zizyphus are also commonly prescribed herbs for both insomnia and anxiety and combine well together. As with all herbal medicines they can take one to two weeks for their full effect and are best taken one hour before bed with a repeat dose in the night if necessary. There are no problems of tolerance or dependency. The potency of the herbs does depend on the quality and quantity of the herb so they are best prescribed by a qualified health practitioner, particularly if there are other medications involved.

Nutritional supplements can also help calm the overactive nervous system. Calcium and magnesium have sedative effects when taken in the evening. Even a cup of warm milk or a piece of cheese after dinner is calming as it provides calcium. However, avoid bedtime snacks of grains or sugars which raise blood sugars and inhibit sleep. Homeopathic melatonin is also useful for jetlag.


Self Care
It is essential that accumulated stress is managed appropriately so that the mind and body can unwind prior to sleep. You might try a warm bath with lavender oil in the evening, chamomile tea, 15 minutes of stretching before bed, gentle lovemaking, listening to white noise or relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. Reading something spiritual or religious or praying also helps people to relax. Remove the TV from your bedroom, eat at least two hours before bed and do not have a large, heavy dinner. Avoidance of stimulants such as caffeine, smoking and alcohol is obviously essential.

Exercise during the day demonstrates well researched benefits for insomnia as does meditation and yoga. Findings suggest that meditation for as little as 15 minutes a day can raise melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that induces drowsiness and sleep. Sleep in complete darkness as even a small amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt circadian rhythms (normal sleeping patterns) and melatonin production. If you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, do not turn the light on as melatonin production will cease immediately for that night. For some sufferers of insomnia, these measures may be enough. Otherwise see a qualified health practitioner if symptoms persist.

Sweet dreams….
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