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Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

Causes, Symptoms, Prevention

What is insomnia?

As adults we follow a natural 24 hour cycle known as the circadian rythm. We normally sleep about 8 hours at night. Sleeping poorly for a few days does not do any harm however prolonged insomnia can have serious consequences. Insomnia or lack of sleep is one of the most commonly reported health problems. Almost 1 out of 3 people have problems sleeping and women are affected twice as much as men.

What are the different forms of insomnia?

Transient insomnia - This is a temporary disturbance of a normal sleep pattern. which may occur for a few days. This is usually due to travel or going to a new place.

Short term insomnia - This may last 2 to 3 weeks and is generally caused by stress or anxiety. When the stress inducing factor is removed, normal sleep patterns return.

Chronic insomnia - Chronic insomnia is a complex disorder. When people are unable to sleep over long periods of time, the body's immune system becomes disturbed and can lead to immune disorders.

Narcolepsy refers to attacks of irresistible drowsiness during the day. A narcoleptic may be unable to sleep at night but will get sleep attacks during normal activities such as walking, talking and working.

Ayurvedic herbs that promote restful sleep
Valerian capsules

Ashwagandha capsules

What are some symptoms of insomnia?

  • Trouble falling asleep on a regular basis
  • Inability to sleep throughout the night
  • Waking up earlier than usual

    What are the causes of insomnia?

    Insomnia can have various causes. Almost half of all insomnia cases are due to psychological factors.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Stress, anxiety, schizophrenia
  • Heartburn
  • Disorders of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and digestive system
  • Chronic pain
  • Breathing disorders, sleep apnea
  • Abnormal blood sugar levels
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Overconsumption of stimulants such as caffeine
  • Medications such as beta-andrenergic blockers, thyroid medicines
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders such as jet lag, shift-work sleep disorder

    What are some natural ways to prevent insomnia?

  • Transient insomnia which may occur during travel usually disappears when you return to a regular sleep pattern.
  • Before going to bed engage in light reading or listen to soft music. Avoid any stimulating activity such as exercise or watching TV
  • Make sure the bedroom is quiet and dark.
  • If you wake up at night and can't go back to sleep, remain quiet and relaxed. Focus on your breathing, be patient and sleep will return.
  • A moderate exercise routine of 20-30 minutes three or four times a week.
  • Sleep medications such as barbiturates are best avoided since they are very addictive. Even benzodiazepines can cause dependence and can be fatal if taken with alcohol or drugs.
  • Ayurvedic herbs like Valerian help to relax and support restful sleep.


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