Insomnia is a common condition these days, and has assumed an alarming proportion in recent times. The term ˜insomnia literally means complete lack of sleep or is an indication of a relative inability to sleep, which may include difficulty in remaining asleep, early final awakening, or combination of these complaints.
Causes and Symptoms
Although the single-most symptom that frequently mark onset of insomnia is difficulty in falling asleep, there may be sudden changes in quality and duration of sleep, persistent changes in sleep patterns, memory lapses, and lack of concentration during the day. Among the other symptoms are emotional instability, loss of co-ordination, and confusion.
It is thought that one of the most common causes of sleeplessness is mental tension, due to anxiety, overwork, and over excitement. At times, suppressed feelings of resentment, anger may also lead to insomnia. Other common health conditions are constipation, overeating, dyspepsia, excessive intake of tea or coffee, smoking, and going to bed hungry are the other causes. Often, worrying about falling asleep is enough to keep one awake.
Remedies: Here are some effective home remedies for insomnia suggested by experts:
Thiamine or presence of Vitamin B1 is considered to have special significance in treatment of insomnia. Thiamine is vital for strong, healthy nerves. A body that is starved of thiamine, will find it difficult in falling asleep naturally, and will not be able to relax. Some valuable sources of thiamine are wholegrain cereals, pulses, nuts, mushrooms, spinach, flaxseeds, green peas, Brussels sprouts, and most of all Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin B1.
Lettuce is beneficial for treatment of insomnia, and contains a sleep-inducing substance called ˜lectucarium. The juice of this plant is known for its sedative action of opium, without the accompanying excitement. Lettuce seeds taken in a decoction are also useful in insomnia. One tablespoon of seeds should be boiled in half a litre of water, till it gets reduced by one-third.
Milk is valuable in treating insomnia. A glass of milk sweetened with honey should be taken every night at bed time, and this is excellent in treating this condition. It acts as a tonic and a tranquiliser.
The mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil in a 50:50 ratio acts as an effective medicine for insomnia. This should be massaged over the scalp every night. The cooked leaves of bottle gourd taken as a vegetable are also beneficial in treatment of the disease.
A tea made from aniseed is valuable in curing insomnia. The tea is prepared by boiling 375ml of water in a vessel and adding a teaspoon of aniseed. Simmer for about 15 minutes, strain and drink warm. The tea may be sweetened with honey and hot milk may also be added to it if preferred. The tea can be taken after meals or at bed time.
Honey is beneficial in treatment of insomnia, as it has a hypnotic action and induces sound sleep. Add two teaspoons of honey to water or milk and drink at bed time to induce sound sleep at night. Even babies generally fall asleep after taking honey.
The herb Rauwolfia is a valuable medicine for insomnia, due to its indisputable capability to be a sedative. The powder of the root (0.25gm to 0.5gm) can be mixed with some fragrant spice like cardamom and consumed. This can help in getting a sound sleep the entire night. In chronic cases, this remedy can be continued twice a day.
Dietary conditions: Salt is said to interfere with a restful sleep. A balanced diet with simple modifications in eating patterns will go a long way in treating insomnia. Such a diet should exclude sugar and its products, white flour products, tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, cola drinks, alcohol, fried foods and food containing additives.
Other simple changes to be incorporated include regular active exercise during the day and mild exercise before retiring to bed at night, as these can improve the quantity and quality of sleep. Other simple aspects include cultivating the art of doing things slowly, particularly activities like walking, eating and talking, limiting work hours to maximum of nine hours a day. A person suffering from insomnia should also make all efforts to eliminate as much stress factors as possible. Cultivating a creative hobby and spending some time daily on this, and avoiding meeting unrealistic targets are other aspects to be considered. Regular practice of meditation may particularly be effective as a relaxation method.
In majority of cases, yoga provides physical and mental relaxation. The traditional yoga asanas that are effective for insomnia patients are Sarvangasana, Shirshasana, Uttanasana, Paschimottanasana, Viparit karni and Shavasana.