Insomnia – The Inability to Sleep
Insomnia is characterized by an inability to sleep and/or to remain asleep for a reasonable period. One who suffers from insomnia will typically complain of being unable to close their eyes or “rest their mind” for more than a few minutes at a time.
Insomnia is a symptom, though a common misconception is that it is itself a sleep disorder. Insomnia is most often caused by sleep disorders, but other causes include fear, stress, anxiety, medications, herbs and caffeine. An overactive mind or physical pain may also be a cause. Finding the underlying cause of insomnia is usually necessary to cure it.
Treatment for Insomnia
Many insomniacs rely on sleeping tablets and other sedatives to try to get some rest. Others use herbs such as valerian, chamomile, lavender, hops, and/or passion-flower. The psychoactive plant cannabis sativa commonly known as marijuana has also been reputed to induce drowsiness in its user, however, use of cannabis sativa for treatment of insomnia is unlawful in most jurisdictions.
Some traditional remedies for insomnia have included drinking warm milk before bedtime, taking a warm bath in the evening; exercising vigorously for half an hour in the afternoon, eating a large lunch and then having only a light evening meal at least three hours before bed, avoiding mentally stimulating activities in the evening hours, and making sure to get up early in the morning and to retire to bed at a reasonable hour.
Traditional Chinese medicine has included treatment for insomnia throughout its history. A typical approach may utilize acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle analysis, herbology and other techniques, with the goal to resolve the problem at a subtle level.
Although these methods have not been scientifically proven, some insomniacs report these remedies are sufficient to break the insomnia cycle without the need for sedatives and sleeping tablets. Warm milk contains high levels of tryptophan, a natural sedative. Using aromatherapy, including lavender oil and other relaxing essential oils, may also help induce a state of restfulness.
The most commonly used class of hypnotics prescribed for insomnia are the benzodiazepines. This includes drugs such as temazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, nitrazepam and midazolam. These medications can be addictive, especially after taking them over long periods of time.
Some antidepressants such as mirtazapine, trazodone and doxepin have a sedative effect, and are prescribed off label to treat insomnia.
Low doses of Atypical antipsychotics such as Seroquel are also sometimes prescribed for their sedative effect.
The more relaxed a person is, the greater the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep. Relaxation techniques such as meditation have been proven to help sleep. They take stress from the mind and body which leads to a deeper more restful sleep.
The information presented here should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you or someone you know suffers from insomnia, please seek professional medical advice for the latest treatment options.
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