Home Medications and Treatments for Insomnia
Insomnia is difficulty in initiating and/or maintaining sleep. It is a term that is used often to indicate any and all stages and types of sleep loss. Insomnia is not a disorder, it is a symptom. Insomnia is very common and is associated with depression, emotional problems, and difficulty in performing work duties. Insomnia can lead to daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and the inability to feel refreshed and rested in the morning. On an average, an adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep. Infants, children, and adolescents typically require more sleep. Not all adults require eight hours of sleep. Some adults may manage with just four or five hours of sleep whereas some may need as many as ten hours of sleep.
Common symptoms of insomnia:
Trouble falling asleep
Getting out of bed during night and difficulty in going back to sleep
Getting up too early in the morning
Experiencing feebleness upon getting out of bed
Tired through out the day
Loss of concentration
Variation of mood frequently
Difficulty focusing on work
The single symptom that most frequently marks the onset of insomnia is difficulty in falling asleep.
Tension, anxiety, stress
The most common cause of sleeplessness is mental tension brought about by anxiety, worries, overwork, and overexcitement.
Suppressed Resentment, anger, bitterness
Suppressed feelings of resentment, anger, and bitterness may also cause insomnia.
Constipation, overeating, excessive tea/coffee/smoking
Constipation, dyspepsia, overeating at night, excessive intake of tea or coffee, smoking, and going to bed hungry are among the other causes. Often, worrying about falling asleep is enough to keep one awake.
Insomnia treatment using Thiamine
Of the various food elements, thiamine or vitamin B is of special significance in the treatment of insomnia. It is vital for strong, healthy nerves. A body starved of thiamine over a long period will be unable to relax and fall asleep naturally. Valuable sources of this vitamin are wholegrain cereals, pulses, and nuts.
Insomnia treatment using Lettuce
Lettuce is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia as it contains a sleep-inducing substance, called 'lectucarium'. The juice of this plant has been likened in effect to the sedative action of opium without the accompanying excitement. Lettuce seeds taken in a decoction are also useful in insomnia. One tablespoon of seeds should be boiled in half a litre of water, till it is reduced by one-third.
Insomnia treatment using Milk
Milk is very valuable in insomnia. A glass of milk, sweetened with honey, should be taken every night before going to bed in treating this condition. It acts as a tonic and a tranquilliser. Massaging the milk over the soles of the feet has also been found effective.
Insomnia treatment using Curd
Curd is also useful in insomnia. The patient should take plenty of curd and massage it on the head. This will induce sleep.
Insomnia treatment using Bottle Gourd
The mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil in 50:50 ratio acts as an effective medicine for insomnia. It should be massaged over the scalp every night. The cooked leaves of bottle gourd taken as a vegetable are also beneficial in the treatment of this disease.
Insomnia treatment using Aniseed
A tea made from aniseed is valuable in sleeplessness. This tea is prepared by boiling about 375 ml of water in a vessel and adding a teaspoon of aniseed. The water should be covered with a lid and allowed to simmer for fifteen minutes. It should then be strained and drunk hot or warm. The tea may be sweetened with honey, and hot milk may also be added to it. This tea should be taken after meals or before going to bed.
Insomnia treatment using Honey
Honey is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. It has a hypnotic action and induces a sound sleep. It should be taken with water, before going to bed, in doses of two teaspoons in a large cup of water. Babies generally fall asleep after taking honey.
Insomnia treatment using Rauwolfia
The herb rauwolfia is a valuable medicine for insomnia because of its indisputable efficacy as a sedative. The hypnotic action of the drug appears to have been known since ancient times. The very first dose of rauwolfia will enable a patient with a phlegmatic and gouty nature to go to sleep. The powder of the root in a quantity of 0.25 gm to 0.5 gm should be mixed with some scented substance like cardamom and given to the patient The patient will have a sound sleep during the entire night. If the disease is chronic, the patient should take O.25 gm twice a day, in the morning as well as at night before retiring.
Certain types of food promote sleep while others inhibit it.
Foods to Eat
Chlorophyll-rich foods, such as leafy, green. vegetables, steamed or boiled.
Microalgae, such as chlorella and spirulina.
Oyster shell can be purchased in health food stores and taken as a nutritional supplement.
Whole grains: Whole wheat, brown rice, and oats have a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system and the mind. Carbohydrates also boost serotonin, which promotes better sleep.
Mushrooms (all types)
Fruit, especially mulberries and lemons, which calm the mind.
Seeds: jujube seeds are used to calm the spirit and support the heart. Chia seeds also have a sedative effect.
Foods such as bread, bagels, and crackers that are high in complex carbohydrates have a mild sleep-enhancing effect because they increase serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.
A glass of warm milk with honey is one of the oldest and best remedies for insomnia. Milk contains tryptophan which, when converted to seratonin in the body, induces sleep and prevents waking.
Lettuce has a long-standing reputation for promoting healthy sleep. This is due to an opium-related substance combined with traces of the anticramping agent hyoscyarnin present in lettuce. Lettuce should be an integral part of your evening diet if you are suffering from sleep disorders. The meal should also include legumes, peanuts, nutritional yeast, fish or poultry. These foods contain vitamin B3 (niacin). Niacin is involved in seratonin synthesis and promotes healthy sleep. Mixed with a little lemon juice for flavor, lettuce juice is an effective sleep-inducing drink highly preferable to the synthetic chemical agents in sleeping pills.
Foods to Avoid
Refined carbohydrates (They drain the B vitamins.)
Non-organic foods containing pesticides.
Canned foods or any source of toxicity or heavy metals.
Sugar and foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. These raise blood-sugar levels and can cause a burst of energy that disturbs sleep.
Foods that are likely to cause gas, heartburn, or indigestion, such as fatty or spicy foods, garlic-flavored foods, beans, cucumbers, and peanuts.
Foods such as meat that are high in protein can inhibit sleep by blocking the synthesis of serotonin, making us feel more alert.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), often found in Chinese food. This causes a stimulant reaction in some people.
Avoid cigarettes and tobacco. While smoking may seem to have a calming effect, nicotine is actually a neurostimulant and can cause sleep problems.
Alcohol and caffeine are two beverages/food that you must avoid for a healthy sleep. Avoid caffeine in all forms (tea, coffee, cola, chocolate). See Also: Caffeine Content of Common Beverages for a table of caffeine in common beverages.
Regular active exercise
Regular active exercise during the day and mild exercise before retiring at night enhances the quantity and the quality of sleep. Yoga helps in a majority of cases. It provides physical and mental relaxation from one’s disturbing problems.
Meditiate, eliminate stress, hobbies
The patient should make an all-out effort to eliminate as many stress factors as possible. The steps in this direction should include regular practice of any relaxation method or meditation technique; cultivating the art of doing things slowly, particularly activities like eating, walking and talking; limiting the working day to nine or ten hours and the working week to five and a half days; cultivating a creative hobby and spending some time daily on this; and avoiding meeting unrealistic targets.
The traditional yoga asanas which are effective for insomnia patients are shirshasana, sarvangasana, paschimottanasana, uttanasana, viparit karni, and shavasana.