My readers tell me that one of my most frequent complaints is: “Dr. “Dr. If you have trouble falling asleep, or wake up during the night, then you may be suffering from insomnia. These problems are very common.
According to some estimates, between 30-50 percent and 10 percent of the population are affected by short-term (acute) insomnia. What exactly is insomnia? Another way to describe insomnia is that you are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Insomnia is more common in women than it is in men. It’s more common to affect older adults, people of lower socioeconomic status (income), chronic alcoholics, and those with mental health issues like depression.
To keep your body healthy, sleep is one of the most important activities you can do. A lack of sleep — at least 7 hours per night — can cause a decrease in attention span, depression, and difficulty processing ideas. You may also experience increased weight gain or an increase in your risk of becoming sick due to sleep problems.
Here are some tips, including natural and home remedies to help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep through the night.
What is Insomnia?
Definitions of insomnia include “habitual insomnia or inability to sleep.”
According to the Sleep Foundation, insomnia can lead to sleep deprivation, daytime fatigue, and other mental and physical problems. People with insomnia report feeling dissatisfied with their energy and moody. They also feel frustrated at not being able to focus or perform well at work.
Did you know there are many types of insomnia?
1. Acute insomnia
Acute insomnia is a brief condition that occurs in response to major life changes or stressful events. This type of insomnia lasts for less than three weeks, and can cause restless sleep multiple times per week. This type of insomnia is usually triggered by stressors such as an exam, big presentation at work, relationship changes, or health problems. Acute insomnia usually resolves after the stressful event is over or you have accepted it better.
2. Chronic insomnia
It can last for at least 3-4 weeks and occur at least 3 times per week. People may experience chronic, ongoing insomnia for many reasons. Chronic insomnia can be reversed by making lifestyle changes and addressing the underlying causes. Sometimes, it is necessary to work with a doctor or therapist to develop a treatment plan.
3. Insomnia comorbida
When a condition or health condition causes insomnia, it’s called comorbid. Depression and other medical conditions can lead to insomnia. Muscle conditions like back pain and restless leg syndrome can also cause insomnia. Psychophysiological insomnia is a similar category. This is where insomnia symptoms can be caused by cognitive, behavioral, and psychological factors.
4. Initial or sleep onset insomnia
If a person struggles to fall asleep initially but isn’t prone to waking up during the night, this is called hypnotic sleep.
5. Maintenance or middle insomnia
When a person is having trouble sleeping and wakes up frequently in the middle of the night, this is called insomnia.
6. Insomnia terminale or late
This happens when someone wakes up too early and can’t go back to sleep.
- Difficulty falling asleep, or waking up often during the night. Trouble falling asleep is an “onset” problem while difficulty staying asleep is a problem.
- Feeling stressed when trying to sleep. This can be a feeling of being unable to fall asleep, racing thoughts, or physical symptoms.
- Feeling tired or fatigued throughout the day. This can lead to poor concentration and focus, memory problems, and impaired motor coordination.
- Low moods, irritability, and difficulty in social interactions are all signs of depression.
- A decreased quality of life, increased risk of obesity and heart disease, and a lower quality of life. Some studies have shown that people with insomnia are nearly four times more likely to be depressed than those without it.
- Reduced job performance, higher risk of motor vehicle accidents, work-related accidents, and other occupational errors. These factors increase your chances of suffering from some form of disability.
It is strongly linked to stress and changes to hormone production and neurotransmitter levels within the brain that are involved in sleep and wakefulness.
One of the most common causes for insomnia is:
- Not having healthy sleep habits, such as not staying up late to watch TV or work. Sleep disruptions can be caused by drinking alcohol, caffeine, or eating sugary/processed food close to bedtime.
- Avoid sleeping in too dark or cold a room. Both artificial lights and heat can keep you awake at night.
- Acute or chronic stress caused by certain life circumstances or changes.
- Changes in your environment such as moving or traveling.
- It is important to have a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Shift work, for example, can disrupt your sleep cycle and cause disruptions to your circadian rhythm. The best sleep is when we get up at the same time every day and go to bed.
- A mental disorder like depression or anxiety. Chronic insomnia is often considered “comorbid”, which means that it can occur simultaneously with another disorder.
- It is possible to become sick or have a medical condition that can cause digestive problems during the night.
- Chronic pain is a condition that makes it difficult to feel comfortable. This includes low back pain, arthritis, and neck pain.
- Other breathing issues, such as sleep apnea.
- Limb movement disorders.
- Certain medications (such psychotropic drugs), can cause an increase in heart rate, nervousness, increased urination, and other symptoms. These drugs can be used to treat colds and nasal allergies, high bloodpressure, heart disease, thyroid diseases, birth control, asthma, depression, and other conditions.
According to conventional medicine, how can you treat insomnia? There is no “cure” for insomnia. Instead, there are ways to prevent it from happening. Non-pharmacologic (nonmedical) and pharmacologic treatments for insomnia can be used. Experts agree that the best results are achieved when medical and non-medical treatment is combined.
Doctors and therapists might use the following treatment options to treat insomnia symptoms:
- Cognitive behavior therapy techniques can be used to address stress-related causes.
- Lifestyle changes can help promote better sleeping patterns. My doctors agree that exercise and a healthy diet are the best ways to get better sleep.
- When necessary, medications may be prescribed including non-benzodiazepine and benzodiazepine sedatives. Your doctor may recommend one of these types of medication if you are diagnosed with insomnia.
- BenzodiazepinesThese sleeping pills are used to induce long-term sleep. These drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms, unsteadiness, confusion, and memory impairment. Ativan and Valium are examples of benzodiazepines.
- Non-benzodiazepine hypnotics: Non-benzodiazepines, also known as “Z drugs”, are sedatives used to treat insomnia. They act on the GABA receptor. These medications are the most commonly prescribed hypnotic drugs in the world. Side effects of Z drugs can include memory loss, withdrawal symptoms, and physical and psychomotor effects such as falls, car accidents, and fatigue. Lunesta and Sonata are examples of non-benzodiazepines.
- An agonist of the melatonin receptorThese drugs can be used to treat depression, insomnia, and sleep disorders. These drugs bind to the melatonin receptor and activate it, which can help improve your sleeping patterns and circadian rhythm. Rozerem is a common melatonin receptor antagonist. It can cause dizziness or drowsiness throughout the day.
- The use of melatonin (a hormone released by the pineal system in response to darkness) helps regulate the circadian rhythms and the sleep-wake cycle.
- Use of antihistamines with sedative properties such as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) that cause drowsiness for short term is possible.
You may be suffering from insomnia if you have trouble falling asleep at night or staying asleep. Doctors don’t use a single test for insomnia. However, there are signs and clues that may help you to make a diagnosis.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing insomnia and/or therapy if you’re having trouble sleeping. Your health professional should be notified of all symptoms, emotional or physical, that you are experiencing with insomnia. Your doctor will most likely conduct a medical exam and talk with you about your medical history.
A sleep study may be recommended by your doctor. To determine if you have insomnia due to breathing problems, sleep apnea, or limb movement disorders, sleep studies/sleep testing are done.
A polysomnography, also known as an insomnia test, is performed in a sleep lab that offers rooms to sleep in for up to two nights. You will be connected to an EEG during your sleep and monitored at various stages to determine how much time you spent in deep, restful sleep.
Online assessments can be used to help you determine if your insomnia is a problem.
A sleep log can be used to track your sleeping patterns if you don’t want to be monitored for insomnia. You can keep a sleep log that tracks your wake-up and bedtimes. It can also track how often you wake up each morning and how you feel throughout your day. This information can help your healthcare provider determine the root cause of your insomnia.
You can also wear devices to monitor your sleep at home. The results may not be as precise as those you get from an in-lab insomnia test, but they can still prove to be useful if you’re unsure how much sleep you’re getting each night.
1. Timing of Meals
Your sleep can also be affected by the timing of your meals. If you feel hungry before bed, it may cause low blood sugar to wake you up. You shouldn’t eat right before going to sleep, however. People should aim to eat between 2 and 4 hours before going to bed.
2. These Foods Are More Delicious
Your diet may need to be changed. Many people are surprised to learn that their diets prevent them from falling asleep. However, your diet is crucial in maintaining normal hormone and neurotransmitter levels.
Many people don’t know they have low potassium levels or magnesium deficiencies. These are vital nutrients that your body needs to feel relaxed and able to sleep.
These are the top foods that can help you fall asleep.
- Foods high in tryptophan This amino acid promotes relaxation by stimulating the production of serotonin. Tryptophan-rich foods include high-protein protein foods like turkey, chicken, and tuna. To increase tryptophan intake, it’s important not to consume too much protein. Balanced meals with complex carbs, protein, and fat are the best ways to boost levels. These can help you feel more sleepy after dinner.
- Complex carbohydrates Carbohydrates may also be helpful in the production of serotonin. However, you shouldn’t eat simple carbs or sugar as they can cause an increase in your energy levels at night. To help release serotonin, include starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash in your dinner.
- Magnesium-rich foods Magnesium is often called the “relaxation” minerals. It can also fight muscle cramps and headaches. To increase your magnesium intake, include raw milk, green leafy vegetables and sesame seeds.
- B vitamins B vitamins are found in all kinds of foods, including organic meats, liver, green leafy vegetables, and brewer’s yeast. B vitamins are important for the nervous system. Some people find that their insomnia symptoms disappear after taking B-complex vitamins.
3. These Foods Should Be Eaten Less
Reduce your sugar and carbohydrate intake before you go to sleep. Your body will burn through sugars and carbohydrates at night and get warm. This can make it difficult to go to sleep comfortably.
These are the foods that you should limit or eliminate to get better sleep.
- Caffeine If you have trouble sleeping, don’t consume caffeine after noon. A review of two random control trials found that caffeine withdrawal for the whole day could improve sleep quality and prolong sleep duration.
- Alcohol Avoid alcohol consumption at least two hours before bed. Moderation is the key to your health. Limit your intake to 1 alcoholic beverage per hour, and perhaps 1-2 drinks per week.
- Any potential food allergens Food allergies can lead to restlessness, GI issues, and other symptoms that can contribute to insomnia. If you experience discomfort, avoid dairy, gluten and shellfish, as well as nuts.
- Sugar Variations in blood sugar levels may cause anxiety/nervousness, and difficulty sleeping. Switch to organic stevia extract instead of high-sugar foods.
- Transfats It can lead to indigestion if you eat too much fat at night. This is especially true for those who suffer from heartburn/acid reflux. Avoid fried foods, salami and processed meats, as well as low-quality cheeses, before going to bed. Instead, choose healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, avocado and nuts and seeds. Spread your fat intake throughout the day to help control your appetite and increase your energy levels.
4. Reduce Stress
Relaxation and stress reduction are two of the best ways to sleep better. This is the main reason that insomnia can keep you awake at night. Your mind races with endless thoughts and your brain seems unable to shut off.
Stress can cause you to feel stressed in many ways. Although you might not feel stressed, your body and mind may be reacting negatively to the environment. These natural stress relieving remedies are:
- Avoid using electronic stimulants such as blue light or TV within an hour to two hours before bed. It doesn’t only include your TV screen, but also your smartphone, iPad, and computer. These devices often live next to your bed. The blue light signals your brain to stop running. This disrupts your circadian rhythms, cortisol levels, and prevents you from falling asleep when you are looking at the bright blue lights on your TV and computer screens. You may also find a setting that lowers the blue light emitted from your device. This is a useful feature for those hours before you go to bed.
- You can start to read something that relaxes you or journal.
- Before you go to bed, practice gratitude. Endorphins are hormones that your body produces when you have a good day and feel happy. They help you fall asleep at night.
- Exercise is one of most natural ways to produce endorphins. Consider it your prescription for a good night’s sleep, especially for teenagers and children who have trouble sleeping. Get at least 30-60 minutes exercise every day, outdoors if possible.
5. Use Quality Supplements
To relieve your insomnia, you can take quality supplements, such as a magnesium supplement.
- Calcium and magnesium 500 mg calcium/250mg magnesium — These minerals can be combined to promote relaxation. A magnesium supplement of 400-500 mg per night, taken before going to bed can naturally reduce stress and improve your sleep quality. Before bed, you might also consider taking a magnesium citrate or magnesium chelate of high quality.
- Passion flower 500mg before bed or in tea.
- Valerian Root 600 mg taken before bed — This increases your brain’s GABA levels to induce sleep, but it doesn’t usually cause the morning drowsiness that many sleep-inducing drugs or supplements.
- Vitamin B12 (1500 mg daily) — Vitamin B12 is essential for cell function. A deficiency could cause disruptions in circadian rhythms.
- Glycine Evidence suggests that glycine can improve sleep quality by increasing serotonin levels, which reduces anxiety and insomnia.
6. Use Essential Oils
Some essential oils, such as lavender essential oil or chamomile oil, can help you sleep better.
Chamomile tea, tincture, or essential oil is a great way to relax and fight stress. Another natural remedy for insomnia that promotes sleep is lavender oil. Lavender oil can be diffused by your bed at night, or you can simply rub a few drops on your neck.
Do a detox bath if you plan to go to bed at 10:30 or 10:10 p.m. After you’re done, read a book and then go back to bed.
6. Get up in the morning to work out
The feeling of adrenaline after a hard workout is amazing, but it can make it difficult to sleep at night. You can shift your workout to the mornings. It will make you feel great to have completed your workout early in the morning, which will make it easier to relax at night. Research has shown that exercise can reduce sleep problems and alleviate symptoms of insomnia.
7. Get Some Sunshine
Natural light exposure can help reset your biological clock by starting your day with natural sunlight. Natural light exposure helps to balance your body’s levels of melatonin, cortisol, and vitamin D. (18, 19)
To get your daily dose of sunshine, you can go for a walk in the morning or leave work during lunch.
8. You can improve your sleep hygiene by changing your lifestyle
Last but not the least, you may need to alter your lifestyle and change the environment in your bedroom (temperature, noise, etc.). To find relief from insomnia, you will need to change your lifestyle. To improve your sleep, I recommend these things:
- Maintain a consistent sleep and wake-up schedule. You will feel more awake or sleepy at specific times during the day.
- Don’t sleep for more than nine hours on certain days. This can cause you to lose sleep the next night. Avoid taking too many naps during the day.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark. If you have to, use blackout blinds/shades. Get rid of clocks and light-emitting devices. Consider wearing a sleep mask.
- Maintain a comfortable temperature at your home. Keep it below 70 degrees, and if needed, lower to the mid-60s. Make sure that the heat is turned down in winter. You will have a better night’s sleep if you live in a comfortable, cold house.
- Your bed should be comfortable. You should consider replacing your bed if you notice a significant dip in the mattress.
- Avoid smoking, as nicotine can cause hormonal disruptions.
- Avoid exercising or doing anything that increases your heart rate or cortisol too close to bedtime.
9. A Weighted Blanket is a great option
As a final suggestion, you might consider using a blanket with a weight to help calm sleep anxiety. Occupational Therapy These blankets have been shown to be effective in treating anxiety-related disorders.
The blanket may weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Beads inside the blanket act as a deep tissue massage, and help to keep it down. The blanket’s weight can increase serotonin levels in your body. Some of this becomes melatonin, which helps you get rest.
Talk to your doctor if you have been experiencing insomnia symptoms for longer than 2 weeks. You may have insomnia as a side effect or symptom of another condition. It is important to determine the root cause.
Talk to your healthcare professional before you attempt to treat insomnia with drugs, alcohol, or any other medication.
- Insomnia refers to a lack of sleep or a habitual inability to fall asleep. Stress, poor lifestyle habits and poor diet can all be causes of insomnia.
- Men, seniors, people with stressful lives, alcoholics, smokers and drug users, as well as people with mood or psychiatric problems are most likely to experience insomnia symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes can make it easier to regulate your sleep patterns. You can improve your sleep habits by changing your lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, supplements, stress relief, and essential oils.