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Article: Insomnia | Sleeplessness | Sleep Supplements

Insomnia | Sleeplessness | Sleep Supplements

Insomnia 

Author:
Dr. Veena

Insomnia refers to the prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate sleep, also known as agrypnia. The function of sleep is still unknown, but it is necessary for the normal functioning of the brain. Normal sleep is controlled by the reticular activating system in the upper brainstem and diencephalon.

Phases of Sleep:

  1. Stage 0 (Awake): From lying down to falling asleep and occasional nocturnal awakenings; constitutes 1-2% of sleep time. Eye movements are irregular or slow.
  2. Stage 1: Eye movements are reduced but there may be bursts of rolling. Neck muscles relax. Occupies 3-6% of sleep time.
  3. Stage 2: Unequivocal sleep with little eye movement; subjects are easily arousable. This comprises 40-50% of sleep time.
  4. Stage 3 (Deep Sleep Transition): Eye movements are few; subjects are not easily arousable; comprises 5-8% of sleep time.
  5. Stage 4 (Cerebral Sleep): Eyes are practically fixed; subjects are difficult to arouse. Night terror may occur at this time. Comprises 10-20% of sleep time. Stages 3 and 4 together are called slow-wave sleep.

Reference: Essentials of Medical Pharmacology – By K.D. Tripathi.

The duration and pattern of sleep vary considerably from person to person. Age has an important effect on sleep. Sleep is an architecturally cyclic process.

The National Institute of Health estimates that roughly 30% of the general population complains of sleep disruption, and approximately 10% have associated symptoms of daytime functional impairment consistent with the diagnosis of Insomnia. Insomnia is of two types: Primary Insomnia and Secondary Insomnia.

Primary Insomnia: Disturbed sleep or inability to fall asleep not related to a health problem.

Secondary Insomnia: Disturbed sleep or inability to fall asleep is related to health conditions like depression, joint pain, heartburn, asthma, etc.

Causes:

Tension, stress, strain, anxiety, excessive worrying about the past or future, jet lag, environmental factors, emotional discomfort, depression, certain medications, sinus allergies, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome.

Symptoms:

Irritability, disturbed sleep, general tiredness, poor concentration, confusion, fatigue, awakening during the night, headache, discomfort in the stomach.

Herbs To Treat Insomnia:

  1. Ashwagandha: Appears to be similar in potency to diazepam in reducing sleep latency and improving sleep quality.
  2. Kava: May improve sleep quality and decrease the time required to fall asleep.
  3. Hops: Useful in treating insomnia, especially when combined with Valerian.
  4. Mucuna Pruriens (Konch): Increases the level of dopamine, serotonin, and other catecholamines in the brain, inducing mood elevation and relieving depression.
  5. Indian Valerian (Valeriana Wallichii): Calms the nerves and is effective in treating anxiety.
  6. Skull Cap: Helps prevent panic attacks at night.
  7. Green Tea: L-theanine derived from green tea is useful in treating anxiety.

Natural Home Remedies:

  • Aromatherapy with essential oils like Lavender, Jasmine, and Rosa can help reduce anxiety. 
  • One drop of Lavender oil on the forehead before sleep or adding two drops in a bath.
  • Morning walks, calming music, and positive thinking can aid in better sleep.
  • Consuming sweets, melatonin supplements, cherry juice, honey in milk, or hot milk with nutmeg before bed.
  • Herbal combinations like Chamomile and Valerian root.
  • Magnesium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables and whole grains help relax muscles and calm nerves.
  • Vitamin B6 aids in serotonin production, essential for sleep.
  • External applications like Ghrit (Ghee) massage on the soles of the feet or warm Jatamansi oil massage on the forehead before bed can promote relaxation.

Though I have mentioned the quantity of ingredients in some natural home remedies, it is advisable to take the quantity/natural home remedies with the consultation of an Ayurvedic Physician.