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Beating Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Beat Insomnia

One of the most common health complaints that doctors hear is the problem of insomnia. Just what is insomnia anyway? Insomnia is a state of ongoing sleeplessness. Often it includes the issue of not being able to fall asleep in the first place or the problem of waking up during the night and not being able to fall back to sleep. Insomnia can range from a one night event to several weeks or months on end. It's unbelievable but there are some people that suffer from a lifetime of insomnia.

In addition to the sleeplessness, some symptoms of insomnia are waking up early in the morning and yet not feeling awake or refreshed enough from their sleep. Fatigue and drowsiness along with irritability will highlight that you are not getting enough of or the right kind of sleep can be a sure sign that a person suffers from insomnia. Many people turn to drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills out of frustration and desperation to achieve a good nights sleep.

Estimates show that at least twenty percent of the American population suffer from insomnia on a regular basis. Although insomnia is not considered to be life threatening it can indeed be insidious and affect a persons life in dramatic ways. Often we fail to connect the lack of quality in our lives with insomnia, however for many people this is the case.

Constant sleepiness, feeling drowsy in the middle of the day and being easily irritated can all be signs of insomnia.. Some people often report a sort of mental fog or confusion in their thinking. Lack of clear thinking can cause one to make mistakes, and decrease their productivity and also put safety at risk. If it continues over more than a few days it can begin to dramatically affect one's work performance and may even alter one's personality traits.

The effect of insomnia can be small or it can be enormous, depending on your specific sleeping habits. If it is small and you only have a "mild" case of insomnia (short-term insomnia ), then you probably won't be too heavily affected. However, if your case of insomnia is more long term, the effect of insomnia on your life will be exceptionally more serious as a result.

How Insomnia Can Affect You

The biggest effect of insomnia is the lack of concentration and mental ability that affects you. Rather than being able to operate normally, your severe lack of sleep will cause you to do things as though you were in slow motion. Everything around you will seem much too fast for you to keep up with. Because of this, the simplest tasks throughout the day will seem almost impossible for you to do -- whether that be finishing the days work, choosing a meal for dinner, answering a question, or just having a conversation with a friend.

Another serious effect of insomnia is that of reaction time. Sleep deprivation and reaction time go hand in hand; meaning if you are not getting enough sleep, your coordination and reaction time will go out the window almost completely. This might not mean anything if you work in an office or if you work from home, but it can literally mean the difference between life and death if you work in a place that requires your absolute attention (driving on the road for example).

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia, or severe lack of sleep, can be caused by virtually anything; including poor diet, stress, depression, withdrawal from drugs, frequent work shift changes, noises, uncomfortable room temperature, anxiety, and a whole host of other things. The unfortunate thing about the causes of insomnia is that they are much too numerous to nail down effectively. This means that even if you discover the cause of your insomnia, it may only be a singular factor of your condition.

Many things can cause insomnia. Determining the cause will help in correcting the problem. Treatment for the underlying cause of insomnia is the main focus. Some causes of insomnia include: underlying conditions such as sleep apnea or other breathing problems, ailments such as pain or indigestion, and side effects of prescribed medications. Other causes relate to a person’s lifestyle. These causes can include: poor sleep habits, consumption of caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. Lifestyle habits like lack of exercise, overeating before bed and an inadequate sleep environment can lead to trouble sleeping.

Still other causes of insomnia may be related to a change in a person’s routine. Traveling out of a person’s time-zone, also called jet lag, can cause insomnia. A job change from working mornings to working nights or shift work impacts one’s ability to sleep. No matter what the cause of insomnia, treatment is usually possible and making some simple changes in behavior can improve one’s quality of sleep.

Symptoms of Insomnia

The symptoms of insomnia can vary among individuals. People who suffer from insomnia may share common symptoms. Lying in bed for hours without being able to fall asleep is a common symptom of insomnia, but inability to fall asleep is not the only sign of a sleep disorder.

Other signs and symptoms of insomnia may include:

- go back to sleep after waking up during the middle of the night
- sted throughout the day, lack of energy, feeling unrefreshed
- frustration, anxiety, stress, depression

Dangers of Insomnia

People who can't sleep may experience various physical and emotional problems. Lack of sleep makes people tired and less productive during waking hours. It also slows reaction time, increasing the risk of car accidents and other mishaps.

Sleep problems also increase the risk of health problems such as:

  • obesity
  • heart problems and high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • anxiety

How to Get Better Sleep

There are many things that a person can do to rest better and to improve their quality of sleep. Many times, making simple changes can result in significant improvement. Changing daily routines, improving the sleep environment and properly preparing for bed are habits that induce a better sleep pattern.

Tips to Beat Insomnia and Sleep Better

People with sleep problems can take several steps to improve the quality of their rest. They include:

1. Set up a sleep routine and stick to it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Try not to nap during the daytime. Also, establish a pattern of behaviors that increases relaxation right before bedtime. Such behaviors may include taking a warm bath and reading.

2. Use the bed for sleep and intimacy only. It's important for the mind to associate the bed with sleeping, so activities such as reading, watching TV and talking on the phone should be done elsewhere.

3. Keep the bedroom dark, quiet and cool. If necessary, dark blinds should be installed to keep out any excess light.

4. Do not lie in bed waiting for sleep. People who cannot fall asleep within about a half-hour should get up and leave the room. Return to bed after 20 minutes of sitting quietly.

5. Avoid foods and activities that interfere with sleep. Reduce consumption of coffee, colas, chocolate and other foods and beverages that contain caffeine. Do not exercise within a few hours of going to bed.

Following these five tips can help people with insomnia sleep better and reduce risks to their health.

What Safe and Natural Herbs Are Available to Cure Insomnia and Sleeping Problems?

Many people with sleep problems swear by melatonin, a natural remedy which seems to lack the potential for abuse and dependence. There is no build up of tolerance to melatonin, and so it is effective and safe to use long-term. It is often used to regulate sleep/waking cycles for those who travel and suffer from jet lag. Users claim that dreams become more vivid and memorable, but this is hardly a bad thing and only makes the sleeping experience more enjoyable. There is no morning sedation, and getting out of bed is not such a daunting task after a night of restful, melatonin-induced sleep. The same cannot be said for other sleep drugs on the market. Other effective natural sleep aids include Valerian root, skullcap, and passionflower.

Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Many foods have medicinal qualities and are delicious at the same time. Combining the right foods at bedtime with changes in the bedroom sleeping environment and promoting individual comfort,sleeping better will be the natural result.

Sleep Better After Eating a Light Snack

A light, night time snack of toast or a bowl of dry cereal will help overcome sleeping disorders and allow most people to sleep better. Eating carbohydrates makes people drowsy and is a precursor to better sleep.

1. Add warm milk to the snack and have a nearly perfect sleep aid. Milk contains enzymes that when warmed add to the feeling of drowsiness and help people get a better night sleep. Studies have shown that warm milk helps the body relax and release melatonin as well as endorphins and other chemicals to induce sleep and give a sense of well being. Avoid drinking milk if acid reflux is a problem or lactose intolerance causes bloating and pain. Leave out the chocolate syrup because adding chocolate will act as a stimulant.
2. Night time snacks should be eaten at least one hour before retiring to allow the stomach to digest the food before trying to fall asleep. If the stomach is working on digestion, sleep disturbances will be experienced and sleeping better will be merely a dream.

Foods and Supplements Help Create a Better Night Sleep

Certain foods and herbs are known for their ability to promote better sleep and reduce incidents of insomnia. Add these to the diet and watch sleepless nights become a thing of the past.

1. Take calcium supplements at bed time to sleep better, and not combined with magnesium. Calcium helps create relaxation and is a natural sleep aid when taken alone. Magnesium is a stimulant, so take it in the morning. The best form of calcium to use is calcium citrate because it is the most easily metabolized. Take at least 1000 mg at bed time as a cure for insomnia.
2. Eat a spoonful of organic honey before bed. High in potassium, honey helps to alkalize and balance the entire system and the brain loves it. One to two teaspoons straight up into the mouth or mixed in a glass of water right before bed will promote relaxation and well being, during sleep disorders and allowing for a better night sleep.
3. Since there are so many different kinds of honey and in so many different flavors, there is something for everyone. If waking in the middle of the night is a problem, try a spoonful of honey and sleep better right afterward.
4. Drink herbal teas to help teach the body how to sleep better. Herbal formulas and teas to may help promote better sleep and can be found in health food stores. Two well known teas that help sleeping better are valerian and chamomile, both being natural sedatives and relaxants.

For a good night sleep, choose night time snacks that work with the body's natural rhythm to soothe and relax encouraging better sleep over heavy, greasy, high protein foods that digest slowly causing acid reflux and other sleep disturbances.

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy for Insomnia

It is important to resolve any stress or depression that could be causing insomnia, but you can also use aromatherapy and essential oils to help you get to sleep.There are many essential oils that have a reputation for being calming and relaxing. Of these oils, lemon balm, chamomile, hops, lavender, orange blossom, and valerian are 6 of the best for treating insomnia. The best method for applying the essential oils is through massage, bath, or diffuser.


Mix 1/4 teaspoon of essential oils with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil. Common carrier oils for massage are jojoba, and apricot kernel. However, these carrier oils are expensive. Olive oil is a suitable and economical replacement. Massage the oil onto the skin before bed and enjoy the relaxing aroma of your favorite essential oils. It is a good idea to place the oils somewhere on your upper body, or directly under your nose to ensure that you can smell them throughout the night.


A bath is a very relaxing way to help you apply essential oils and can often aid in sleeping. Simply, fill the bathtub with warm water and add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Chamomile and lavender work very well for this method of application.


A diffuser disperses the scent of the oil throughout the room. Essential oil diffusers come in many shapes and sizes. You can find diffusers that plug into an electrical outlet and diffusers that heat the oil with a small candle. Diffusers will provide a strong aroma throughout the room. For a more subtle application of the essential oil, you can place the oils alone in a bowl, on a cotton cloth, on a tissue, in potpourri, or in a sleep pillow near the head of your bed. This will create a subtle aroma as you sleep because the oils are not heated.

Recipe for Combination of Essential Oils

It is fun to experiment with aromatherapy recipes to create a variety of aromas Try this recipe for treating insomnia. Combine 4 drops of orange blossom, 6 drops of chamomile, and 8 drops of lavender in a dark-colored glass bottle. Place a few drops of the essential oil recipe at the head of your bed.

What Else Can I Do to Help Me Get Some Sleep?

Music, daily exercise, warm baths, warm milk, and herbal tea are all helpful natural sleep remedies. A combination of these can be very effective in helping one get to sleep at night. It is also recommended that those suffering from insomnia avoid tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol, particularly within a few hours of bedtime. Illuminated alarm clocks, as well as any light in the room, can also make sleep difficult. It is best to achieve as dark a room as possible when attempting to retire for the night.

Overall, it is recommended that one strive to reduce stress, get plenty of exercise, and consume a healthy and balanced diet as well as ensure that your sleeping environment is dark and comfortable.

In the end, there is no universal cure for insomnia; treatment options vary on a case by case basis. The individual must first work to learn what is causing his or her inability to sleep. In order to eliminate this issue, the root cause must be examined and dealt with before anything else. Insomnia is often more of a symptom than an ailment – those suffering from insomnia may have a serious underlying medical condition, or simply be overcome by stress at the time of onset. A trip to the doctor is key when searching for the cause of an individual’s inability to sleep. Though there are many proposed treatments for the symptoms of insomnia, a true cure cannot be reached without properly addressing the root cause(s).


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