Insomnia (or sleeplessness) is most often defined by an individual’s report of sleeping difficulties.
Insomnia is the inability to obtain an adequate amount or quality of sleep. The difficulty can be in falling asleep, remaining asleep, or both. People with insomnia do not feel refreshed when they wake up. Insomnia is a common symptom affecting millions of people that may be caused by many conditions, diseases, or circumstances.
Types of insomnia
Insomnia can be classified as transient, acute, or chronic.
- Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress. Its consequences – sleepiness and impaired psychomotor performance – are similar to those of sleep deprivation.
- Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month. Insomnia is present when there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or when the sleep that is obtained is non-refreshing or of poor quality. These problems occur despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep and they must result in problems with daytime function. Acute insomnia is also known as short term insomnia or stress related insomnia.
- Chronic insomnia lasts for longer than a month. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. People with high levels of stress hormones or shifts in the levels of cytokines are more likely to have chronic insomnia. Its effects can vary according to its causes. They might include muscular fatigue, hallucinations, and/or mental fatigue. Some people that live with this disorder see things as if they are happening in slow motion, wherein moving objects seem to blend together. Chronic insomnia can cause double vision.
Causes and symptoms
Transient insomnia is often caused by a temporary situation in a person’s life, such as an argument with a loved one, a brief medical illness, or jet lag. When the situation is resolved or the precipitating factor disappears, the condition goes away, usually without medical treatment.
- Some people with insomnia may complain of difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently during the night. The problem may begin with stress. Then, as you begin to associate the bed with your inability to sleep, the problem may become chronic.
- Most often daytime symptoms will bring people to seek medical attention. Daytime problems caused by insomnia include the following:
- Poor concentration and focus
- Difficulty with memory
- Impaired motor coordination (being uncoordinated)
- Irritability and impaired social interaction
- Motor vehicle accidents because of fatigued, sleep-deprived drivers
Chronic insomnia usually has different causes, and there may be more than one. These include:
- A medical condition or its treatment, including sleep apnea.
- Use of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
- Psychiatric conditions such as mood or anxiety disorders.
- Stress, such as sadness caused by the loss of a loved one or a job.
- Disturbed sleep cycles caused by a change in work shift
- Sleep-disordered breathing, such as snoring.
- Periodic jerky leg movements (nocturnal myoclonus), which happen just as the individual is falling asleep
- Repeated nightmares or panic attacks during sleep.
Another cause is excessive worrying about whether or not a person will be able to go to sleep, which creates so much anxiety that the individual’s bedtime rituals and behavior actually trigger insomnia. The more one worries about falling asleep, the harder it becomes. This is called psychophysiological insomnia.
Specialists in sleep medicine are qualified to diagnose the many different sleep disorders. Patients with various disorders including delayed sleep phase syndrome are often mis-diagnosed with primary insomnia. When a person has trouble getting to sleep, but has a normal sleep pattern once asleep, a circadian rhythm disorder is a likely cause.
In many cases, insomnia is co-morbid with another disease, side-effects from medications, or a psychological problem. Approximately half of all diagnosed insomnia is related to psychiatric disorders. In depression in many cases “insomnia should be regarded as a co-morbid condition, rather than as a secondary one;” insomnia typically predates psychiatric symptoms. “In fact, it is possible that insomnia represents a significant risk for the development of a subsequent psychiatric disorder.”
Recovery from insomnia can vary.
- If you have insomnia caused by jet lag, your symptoms will generally clear up within a few days.
- If you are depressed and have had insomnia for many months, it is unlikely that your symptoms will go away on their own. You may need further evaluation and treatment.
- Your outcome will also depend on coexisting medical conditions, which may include congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic pain syndromes.
Belladonna is made from the Deadly Nightshade, a plant in the Solanaceae family. This remedy helps those who are very restless and are woken up by their nightmares. They may also experience jerking while sleeping. The Belladonna constitution is drowsy in the evenings with much yawning at this time. They may experience a pounding in the blood vessels of the head or be kept awake by hearing the blood pulsing in their head. Their dreams are anxious and vivid: of fires, robbers and assassins. Children awake from sleep frightened. Oftentimes there is a violent throbbing in the brain which prevents sleep. The dreams found under Belladonna are frightful ones, and they constantly awaken the patient. It is probably our best remedy for insomnia due to cerebral hyperaemia; that is, it will be most often indicated, also after morphine which produces cerebral hyperaemia of a passive variety.
This medicine can be used for those who drink too much, who abuse coffee and tea, subjected to abdominal disorders. If you face difficulty in sleeping after stopping sedatives, such as alcohol, or suffering from too much mental stress, have rush of ideas in your mind when you go to sleep at night, this medicine can help. This medicine is particularly for those people who use stimulants to get to sleep. The great characteristic of this remedy is that the patient is very sleepy in the evening, cannot keep awake ; moreover the sleep is not sound or restful and the patient is awakened at night by anxiety and frightful dreams. He awakens at about four or five O’clock in the morning feeling somewhat refreshed, but soon resleeps and awakens at the usual time feeling worse than ever. Sleeplessness from mental overwork, from too close study, especially at night. The morning sleep aggravates all the affections.
This medicine is useful if the brain is full of ideas and images. After long illness, the brain cells are poorly nourished. Sleeplessness from overworked minds and without any cause may use hyoscyamus. After long illnesses and the brain cells are illy nourished this remedy is very useful. It is especially indicated in sleeplessness in children, who twitch, cry out frightened and tremble. Sleeplessness from overworked minds and without apparent cause may be benefited by Hyoscyamus. Talcott says: “Hyoscyamus paints the mental town of its victim a brilliant and luminous red.” The patient is jolly and wakeful.
Coffea is made from coffee bean and is very useful in cases of sleeplessness where the mind is awake and active. The patient is wide awake and all the senses are extremely acute. In cases where there is excessive agitation of body and mind, and where ideas force themselves on the mind, Coffea is the remedy, and its use as a beverage withheld. It will be found that this acts better in the higher potencies. Hale says: “If there is any place for high dilutions, it is in insomnia.” The patient is wide awake, without the slightest inclination to sleep, and all the senses are extremely acute. It is the remedy when excitement or good news, joys or night watching causes the insomnia. It is well suited to sleeplessness in teething children.
For sleeplessness in children due to severe pain, Chamomilla is a sovereign remedy. It quiets the irritability and the emotional excitement and the patient sleeps. It is also adapted to weak, nervous women. The sleep is tormented by dreams which are fanciful, vivid and anxious; the patient is hot and thirsty. Moaning in sleep. This is also a remedy acting better in the higher potencies. Great drowsiness is characteristic of the remedy.
Use gelsemium if anyone suffering from sleeplessness because of excessive brain work. It is indicated in business men who pass restless nights, awaken early in the morning and worry over their business affairs. It also is most useful in a state of alternate excitement and depression. It has also sleeplessness from emotional disturbances, and after evening company. The patient goes to bed tired, but immediately becomes wakeful. It is especially suited to thin, spare men who are nervous and subject to nervous chills.
It is useful where the business cares of the day keep him awake.
Sleeplessness from nervous excitement, cutaneous irritations and external heat. The patient is drowsy all day and sleepless at night. Sleeps in “cat naps”, wakes frequently. This medicine can be used for sleeplessness due to nervous excitement, external heat and irritability. Awakened by the slightest noise and if you find it difficult to get back to sleep, you can try this medicine. It is useful in conditions where you are experiencing nightmares, disturbed and unrefreshing sleep, waking up early in the morning.
It has sleeplessness from exhausting diseases. The mind is active and the patient indulges in castle building.
Sleeplessness following intense mental overwork and anxiety coupled with confusion, vertigo and pain in the head.
In obstinate and intractable forms of insomnia, Cannabis is one of the best remedies we have to induce sleep. An irregular sleep is more of an indication than absolute insomnia. It produces a tranquil slumber, relieves the nervousness and neuralgic pains , and even if given in doses of from 5 to 15 drops of the tincture in water it leaves no bad effects behind.
Passiflora incarnata in doses of from 30 to 60 drops, and repeated if necessary, will induce sleep when mental irritation or pain is the cause of the wakefulness.
Camphora mono-bromata is useful for sleeplessness due to the continued use of tea. In insomnia of locomotor ataxia or epilepsy give 3X potency.
Sleeplessness from mental exhaustion or anaemia, a useful remedy in worn-out brain workers, night watchers and those who have lost much sleep.
Avena sativa in doses of from 10 to15 drops of the tincture will oftentimes induce a peaceful dreamless sleep in those who are nervous and exhausted.
It treats all types of nervous and panic disorders and is especially useful in insomnia caused by pain and fears. It is useful for people who are woken from their sleep by anxiety, panic or fears. They can be very drowsy, after dinner and even while walking. Those needing this remedy can sleep walk. They can be found sleeping on their backs with hands over their heads, as sleeping on the sides aggravates them.
It is made from elemental arsenic. is a useful remedy for the sleeplessness of malnutrition, where there is general degeneration of the blood and exhaustion of the nervous system. Restlessness of anaemic irritability. The person needing this remedy can be greatly fatigued but too restless to sleep. They are anxious about small things, and they wake unrefreshed. Those needing Arsenic wake frequently during the night and may have many dreams, for instance dreams of storms, fires, and darkness. They may experience a burning sensation under the skin.
It is a mineral remedy that can be helpful to children who wake from growing pains in the legs. Any aches in the bones and joints that prevent sleep may be helped by this remedy, in both children and adults. Those needing this remedy have difficulty getting to sleep because of the pain and discomfort and then have difficulty waking from sleep. They can wake frequently during the night as well, and also dream of danger and fires.
If patient feel sleepy, but are not able to sleep, you can try opium. It is for those people who feel great drowsiness but are not able to fall asleep. Problem with acuteness of hearing, striking clock and any other sound coming from great distance during the night can keep him awake.
This is for sleeplessness arising from a worried mind. At night patient wake up with headache. Worry may be due to any kind of personal or business trouble.
This medicine is useful in sleepless caused due to bad dreams, dreams of serpents, horror dreams, active thoughts in the mind.
Sleeplessness caused by grief, shock, sadness, depressing emotions, tensions can be treated with ignatia amara. If patient are not able to sleep because of some shocking news or sad news, try ignatia, it will calm him down and will put his body to rest.
Sleeplessness caused due to mental or physical exhaustion can be treated with cocculus. This remedy is suited to nervous and timid people.
Changes in behavior
Patients can make changes in their daily routine that are simple and effective in treating their insomnia. They should go to bed only when sleepy and use the bedroom only for sleep. Other activities like reading, watching television, or snacking should take place somewhere else. If they are unable to go to sleep, they should go into another room and do something that is relaxing, like reading. Watching television should be avoided because it has an arousing effect. The person should return to bed only when they feel sleepy. Patients should set the alarm and get up every morning at the same time, no matter how much they have slept, to establish a regular sleep-wake pattern. Naps during the day should be avoided, but if absolutely necessary, than a 30 minute nap early in the afternoon may not interfere with sleep at night.
Another successful technique is called sleep-restriction therapy, which restricts the amount of time spent in bed to the actual time spent sleeping. This approach allows a slight sleep debt to build up, which increases the individual’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If a patient is sleeping five hours a night, the time in bed is limited to 5-5 1/2 hours. The time in bed is gradually increased in small segments, with the individual rising at the same time each morning; at least 85% of the time in bed must be spent sleeping.
President – Youth Homoeopathic Association
Hony.Correspondent- Hahnemann Ki Aawaz (National Homoeopathic News Paper)