Insomnia is a persistent sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep - or both - despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
• Difficulty falling asleep
• Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
• Waking up too early in the morning
• Feeling tired upon waking
With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed. This impacts your ability to function during the day, hindering your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.
Acute versus Chronic Insomnia
Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
Primary versus Secondary Insomnia
Primary insomnia is when the sleep problems are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem. On the contrary, in secondary insomnia, the sleep problems derived from something else, such as a health condition, pain, medication, or a any other substance that may disturb sleep (like alcohol).
What causes Insomnia
Insomnia can be caused by many different things, including stress, underlying health conditions, and alcohol or drug misuse.
- Stress and anxiety
Concerns and everyday anxieties can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events may lead to insomnia. Worrying about being able to go to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Mental disorders
Insomnia is sometimes caused by a mental health disorder. Depression is a frequent cause of insomnia, psychological struggles making it hard to sleep, or making you sleep too much. Difficulty falling asleep is also common in people with anxiety disorders. Other mood disorders such as bipolar disorder may also cause sleep problems. On the other hand, a mental health disorder can be found after a complaint of insomnia.
- Medical conditions
A medical condition itself can cause insomnia, but sometimes it is the symptoms of the condition that cause discomfort, making it difficult for a person to sleep. If you have chronic pain, breathing difficulties or a need to urinate frequently, you might develop insomnia.
- Change in your environment or work schedule
Travel (jet lag) or working in shifts can disrupt the sleep cycle, making it difficult to sleep.
- Poor sleep habits (environmental factors)
Irregular sleep schedules, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment (noise, light, or extreme temperatures) and using bed for activities other than sleep or sex can interfere with sleep
Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, including some antidepressants, heart and blood pressure medications, allergy medications or stimulants.
- Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
Drinking coffee in the late afternoon and later can keep you from falling asleep at night. Nicotine is another stimulant that can cause insomnia. Alcohol is a sedative that may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to awaken in the middle of the night.
- Eating too much late in the evening
Eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down, making it difficult to get to sleep. Some people also experience heartburn after eating, which may keep them awake.
Symptoms & Health complications
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
- Sleepiness during the day
- General tiredness / Lack of energy or motivation
- Moodiness or irritability / Impulsiveness or aggression
- Problems with concentration or memory / Poor performance at school or work
- Errors or accidents
- Concern or frustration about your sleep
Complications of insomnia
Whatever its reason, insomnia can affect you both mentally and physically. People with insomnia report a lower quality of life compared with people who are sleeping well. Complications may include:
- Psychiatric problems, such as depression or an anxiety disorder
- Overweight or obesity
- Increased risk and severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes
- Substance abuse
Treatment & Prevention
Good sleep habits to prevent insomnia include
- Adopt a regular sleep schedule
Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day, because they may make you less sleepy at night.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day
- Get regular exercise
But try not to exercise close to bedtime, because it may stimulate you, making it hard to fall asleep. It is recommended not to exercise for at least three to four hours before the time you go to sleep.
- Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day
- Make your bedroom comfortable
It must be dark, quiet, not too warm or too cold. If needed, use a sleeping mask if light is a problem and earplugs or a fan against noise.
- Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep
- Read a book, listen to music, take a bath, try medidation techniques or yoga practice. If you have a lot to think about, try to make a to-do list before you go to bed so that you will not focus on these worries overnight.
- Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex
Treatment of Chronic Insomnia
Treatment for chronic insomnia includes first treating any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing the insomnia. If insomnia continues, a behavior therapy may be considered.
Behavioral treatments teach you new sleep behaviors and ways to improve your sleeping environment and are generally recommended as the first line of treatment for people with insomnia. Typically they're equally or more effective than sleep medications.
Behavior therapies include:
- Education about good sleeping habits.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake.
- Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback and breathing exercises are ways to reduce anxiety at bedtime and help you control your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and mood.
- Stimulus control to help you associate your bed and bedroom only with sleep and sex.
- Sleep restriction. It will decrease the time spent in bed, causing partial sleep deprivation, which will make you more tired the next night. Once your sleep has improved, your time in bed is gradually increased.
- Light therapy. It can help you to push back your internal clock if you fall asleep too early and then awaken too early.
Treating Insomnia with herbs
As an adaptogen, Jiaogulan has the ability to balance the hormonal and nervous system response, helping people to quickly adapt to environmental factors such as stress, anxiety, aging or injury.
As a metabolic regulator, it promotes a good restful night’s sleep when needed and provides the energy and vitality needed to carry out the day’s functions.
Jiaogulan tea can help promote a restful sleep due to the absence of caffeine in the tea. Drinking the right amount of Jiaogulan tea before bed time can help people counter insomnia and restless nights.
Noni stimulates the production and release of xeronine, which activates the pineal gland. This gland stimulates two major nerve hormones, serotonin and melatonin.
• Serotonin is an important initiator of sleep. By consequence, Noni helps to reduce your mental stress, anxiety, depression by maintaining your serotonin level in your body in a balanced condition. That is why Noni can help people who have sleeping problems, or who want to normalize their serotonin levels without the side-effects of antidepressants.
• Melatonin is also a sleep hormone. Since Noni helps to secret more melatonin, keeping your endocrine system in a balance condition, it will reduce insomnia caused by hormonal imbalances.
• Releasing additional xeronine into the bloodstream will almost immediately eliminate any pain by acting as an analgesic or painkiller as well as a relaxant. That is why Noni may also help in sleeplessness associated with pain.