Insomnia is a very common problem that affects many people.
What are the causes? What diseases can make this symptom worse?
How to treat it?
Of course, your physician remains the main point of contact for resolving insomnia concerns.
But we can still tackle this subject and try to find advanced medical recommendations and effective natural remedies that will allow you to try to find better sleep.
- 1 The cycles of sleep
- 2 Sleep disorder
- 3 What is insomnia?
- 4 What are the causes of insomnia
- 5 The different types of insomnia
- 6 Sleep hygiene
- 7 Cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep
- 8 Treatment of insomnia
- 9 Natural remedies to help for insomnia
- 10 Homeopathy for insomnia
- 11 Insomnia Essential Oils
- 12 Natural cure for insomnia
- 13 Frequently Asked Questions
The cycles of sleep
As you probably know, sleep consists of 3 phases:
– light slow sleep
– deep slow sleep
– REM sleep
When a person falls asleep, they go through each phase before reaching REM sleep, a state in which the individual shows signs of light slow sleep and deep slow sleep, with rapid eye movement (REM).
When the cycle ends, it returns to the first phase and then resumes the same cycle until it reaches the REM phase again.
Throughout the night and successive cycles, the period of REM sleep lengthens.
At the end of the night, this third phase is the longest.
When sleep is normal, the state of deep sleep is usually longer at the start of the night, rapid eye movements appear at the end of the night.
These two states bring true physical recovery.
As you age, a significant reduction in REM sleep occurs as phase 1 of light slow sleep increases.
This noticeable change occurs around the 40-50 age group and then sleep remains fairly constant from the 60-90 age group.
The efficiency of sleep, that is the total time of sleep divided by the total time in bed, sometimes decreases by 95% – 80% in general – as we approach 80 years.
So, when you enter your forties, a kind of disorder takes place.
It translates to:
- more frequent waking up in the middle of the night
- staggered phases
- shorter REM sleep
- shortened REM phase
- reduced sleep efficiency
- phase advance syndrome, circadian rhythm disorder (body clock), go to bed earlier, wake up earlier
In compensation for all these changes, the body becomes more resistant to lack of sleep.
What is insomnia?
According to a study, we know that 14% of 18-34-year-olds, 15% of 35-49-year-olds, 20% of 50-64-year-olds, and 25% of 65-79-year-olds suffer from insomnia.
We understand then that a quarter of the retired population suffers from insomnia.
And the term insomnia is vague.
We know that 19% of these people get up too early, 19% have difficulty falling asleep, 25% take a nap during the day and 29% suffer from insomnia.
But that’s not just a problem at a certain age.
We also know that people who are young or in their forties have problems falling asleep or waking up frequently.
What are the causes of insomnia
The causes of insomnia can be very diverse.
Of course, drinking too much caffeine can affect sleep.
But we know that:
– 35% of patients suffering from this sleep disorder are suffering from psychiatric illnesses and in particular from depression
– 15% suffer from psychophysiological insomnia due to performance anxiety
– 12% have an addictive disorder (alcohol or drug)
– 12% have restless legs
– 10% have a circadian rhythm disorder
– 9% think they are not sleeping when their sleep is normal
The different types of insomnia
Many causes can affect sleep, but contrary to popular belief, they can be explained.
- The genetic factor
You can’t do anything about it, you carry it within you and can’t fight it: whether you have insomnia or not.
- Acute insomnia
There too, you can not do anything about it, it reveals a genetic part but is increased by major stress.
We all know this type of insomnia on the eve of a journey, an ordeal, a change.
- Initial or precocious insomnia
There’s nothing you can do, you can’t fall asleep and worse yet, you already go to bed with the certainty that you won’t sleep.
- Chronic insomnia
Insomnia is considered chronic when it recurs more than 3 times per week over a long period.
It can result in difficulty falling asleep, nocturnal, or early awakenings.
Fighting insomnia is a long battle.
But to achieve this, there are a few rules to follow that should not be overlooked:
– Do not sleep more than necessary
– Go to bed at a regular time
– Don’t force yourself to sleep
– Exercise for 20 minutes 4 or 5 hours before bedtime
– Do not consume caffeine in the afternoon
– Avoid alcohol
– No smoking in the afternoon
– Don’t go to bed hungry
– Dim the bedroom lighting
– Don’t dwell on bedtime problems
Stimulus control is also important.
It is a question here of going to bed only when you are sleepy, not reading or watching television, getting up after 20 minutes if you can’t fall asleep, only to go back to bed when you are asleep.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep
Specialists usually offer behavior therapy combined with drug treatment.
Four types of behavioral therapy may pay off in the fight against insomnia:
Here, progressive relaxation at bedtime which consists in releasing each muscle until the body is relaxed or meditation which reduces anxiety can help solve sleep problems.
- Sleep restriction therapy
Sleep restriction therapy should be performed under medical supervision.
It consists of reducing the time spent in bed to the precise time of sleep while eliminating prolonged awakenings.
- Cognitive therapy
This therapy is a de-dramatization method aimed at preventing the person from ruminating on catastrophic thoughts to restore a realistic perception of situations.
It can have a major impact on difficulty falling asleep.
- Cognitive behavior therapy
Conducted by a psychologist, cognitive behavioral therapy is the combination of all techniques of sleep hygiene, stimulus control, restriction of sleep, and cognitive therapy.
So the practitioner gives the patient all the keys to solving his insomnia problem.
Treatment of insomnia
Along with therapies initiated to alleviate sleep problems, drugs can be prescribed to relieve anxiety, regulate cycles, and moderate apprehension.
– The benzodiazepines
The physician may prescribe sedatives from the benzodiazepine category such as triazolam (Halcion), lorazepam (Ativan) …
Their role in insomnia is to improve phases 2 and 3 by reducing anxiety.
They still have bothersome side effects such as amnesia or drowsiness and are addictive.
– The hypnotics
The most famous is certainly zolpidem.
Their structure is very different from benzodiazepines even if their role is quite identical in improving phases 2 and 3 of sleep.
On the other hand, they do not act on anxiety but induce rapid sleep.
They have far fewer side effects than their cousins because their half-life is short (they are quickly cleared from the blood).
Melatonin receptor agonists are more effective than melatonin.
They revealed a potent antidepressant effect that helps fight poor sleep quality or phase delays.
They have few side effects, no hypnotic effects, and are not addictive.
– The antidepressants
Antidepressants are preferred for patients with depression affecting sleep.
They are not indicated as a first-line treatment but may be prescribed for underlying diseases.
* All these substances have contraindications and are not recommended for pregnant women, people with kidney, lung, or liver problems, or those with nocturnal apnea syndrome.
They are also incompatible with alcohol consumption and should not be prescribed to people over 75 years of age.
Natural remedies to help for insomnia
Some natural supplements can also help stave off insomnia and it is sometimes worth trying to determine whether they are working on you.
Here are the 6 best supplements to improve sleep:
Melatonin is a natural sleeping pill but it seems that it is particularly effective for forties people and over because the levels of this hormone are low as soon as we pass this age group.
The recommended dose of melatonin (#ad) is 3 to 5mg for an adult.
For children from 6 years old, a bedtime dose of 1 to 2 mg is sufficient.
Melatonin does not present serious side effects when the dosage is respected.
On the other hand, excessive consumption disrupts the circadian cycle and hormonal secretions thus aggravating insomnia.
This is the active form of vitamin B12.
It significantly increases the effectiveness of melatonin and is beneficial for people 40 years of age and over.
It is particularly interesting for subjects suffering from a sleep-wake disorder, daytime sleepiness, restless nights, and nocturnal awakenings.
Methylcobalamin (#ad) improves the quality of sleep, increases alertness and concentration during the day, and stabilizes mood.
The recommended dosage is 3 to 5mg taken in the morning.
Magnesium and insomnia
Taking magnesium before bedtime allows you to benefit from a relaxing, stress-reducing effect, promoting restful sleep.
Magnesium is of great benefit to older people with insomnia and even helps reverse age-related sleep alterations.
The recommended dosage is 250-300mg at bedtime.
The best choices are citrate, malate, or magnesium bisglycinate powder (#ad)
5-HTP for insomnia
5-Hydroxytryptophan is a substance that the brain turns into serotonin.
The 5-HTP (#ad) is closer to serotonin than L-tryptophan (not recommended) and gives more consistent results in improving sleep.
It increases REM sleep by around 25% and acts on other phases as well.
The recommended dosage is 50 to 150mg approximately 45 minutes before bedtime starting with the minimum dose for the first 3 days.
L-theanine (#ad) is an amino acid found primarily in green tea.
Studies show it can reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep.
It can help children with trouble sleeping with a dose of 200mg at bedtime.
To obtain a sedative effect in adults, a 600 mg dose at bedtime is recommended.
Valerian for insomnia
Valerian is a well-studied sleeping pill.
Studies show that it improves sleep quality, reduces the time to fall asleep, and maintains consistent restful sleep.
It is also free of side effects and shows no residual drowsiness during the day.
To obtain this sedative effect, you must opt for a valerian extract with 0.8% valerenic acids (#ad)
The recommended dosage is 150-300mg 30 minutes before bedtime.
Homeopathy for insomnia
Homeopathy can be effective but only if it is occasional insomnia.
If stress is the cause:
– Gelsemium Sempervirens 30C: 3 pellets 3 times a day
– Ignatia Amara 30C: a single dose of 5 pellets
If mental overactivity is keeping you up at night:
When waking up in the morning:
– Kali Phosphoricum 30C: 5 pellets morning and evening
– Phosphoricum Acidum 30C: 5 pellets morning and evening
Insomnia Essential Oils
Four essential oils are very suitable for tempering insomnia.
– Roman chamomile
The lavender essential oil has a significant calming effect before bedtime.
Chamomile essential oil promotes sleep.
Petitgrain bigarade essential oil soothes the sympathetic nervous system.
Marjoram essential oil does not act directly against insomnia but for anxiety.
It is strongly recommended to make a synergy of these four sedative essential oils:
– Lavender: 35 drops
– Roman chamomile: 35 drops
– Petitgrain Bigarade: 35 drops
– Marjoram: 35 drops
– Vegetable oil of your choice: 6ml
At bedtime, place a drop on each wrist then breathe in the vapors of the essential oils.
Apply a few drops to the solar plexus.
You can proceed to a new application in case of nocturnal awakening.
Natural cure for insomnia
Insomnia is not inevitable.
It can be treated medically when it is very entrenched.
It can also be curbed by natural means when taken in time.
Sleep disturbances have a very negative impact on quality of life.
It is important to treat them quickly to avoid falling into chronic insomnia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Consequences of insomnia on health
Sleep problems have a negative impact on health.
If insomnia primarily causes daytime sleepiness, irritability, lack of concentration, and fatigue, its impact on general health can be even more damaging.
It can thus generate an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and all metabolic diseases, and certain cardiovascular diseases.
It significantly reduces immune defenses and accelerates the aging process.
What is idiopathic insomnia?
Idiopathic insomnia is rare and is characterized by onset in childhood without any detectable cause.
It is manifested by a constant inability to sleep a sufficient number of hours, which leads to permanent daytime fatigue.
It continues into adulthood and is not stress-induced.
What is Fatal Familial Insomnia?
Also called sporadic fatal insomnia, this form of insomnia is the consequence of prion disease (degeneration of the central nervous system).
Sleep is so disrupted that cognitive impairment and loss of coordination quickly occur.
This spongiform encephalopathy is a rare disease with a poor prognosis.
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