If you’ve ever suffered with insomnia, had difficulty sleeping for a while, or even lost sleep due to life circumstances, you know how poor quality and insufficient sleep affects us as humans. Sleep gives our bodies the opportunity to repair themselves and our minds a chance to rest. Without enough sleep, we feel irritable and inefficient, and we are less able to concentrate on our daily tasks. Each individual needs a different amount of sleep, but most people do best with 7-9 hours per night. The amount of sleep we need to revitalize and function efficiently during the day also changes as we grow older. Young babies sleep for up to 18 hours each day, but as we age the amount of time sleeping usually ends up at an average of seven hours per night. We also tend to wake more during the night as we age and take longer to get to sleep in the first place.
These are normal sleep patterns that alter as we progress through life. Insomniacs, on the other hand, have regular difficulty in falling asleep, wake frequently and are restless throughout the night, and often wake early only to feel tired during the day. The effects of a few broken nights are not serious but, for those who suffer from insomnia, sleeplessness can last for years. They frequently find themselves in the relentless, vicious circle of overtiredness and worrying so much about the need for sleep that they cannot relax, which only perpetuates the issue further. At LifeWorks Wellness Center we are insomnia treatment specialists. We offer natural, drug free solutions for insomnia sufferers. Let’s examine the symptoms, causes, and self-care tips for insomnia, and the natural, drug-free treatments we offer.
Symptoms of Insomnia
The main symptoms of insomnia are:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking during the night, or waking too early in the 7-9 hour sleep cycle, with difficulty going back to sleep
- Waking up fatigued and as though you hadn’t slept much (non-restorative sleep)
- Sleepiness and tiredness during the day
- Brain fog, difficulty paying attention, and focusing on tasks
- An increase in mistakes, error, or accidents
- Anxiety over going to sleep or staying asleep
- Irritability, depression, anxiety, and other mood disturbances
Insomnia can also interfere with relationships and cause behavior problems such as impulsivity and aggression.
Common Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia may be the main problem or may be a secondary result of other conditions or health problems. Common causes of insomnia are:
- Stress is the number one cause of insomnia. Stress can result from work, school or family obligations, money issues, relationship issues, a major life event such as the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, and the like.
- Erratic schedules can also disrupt your circadian rhythms (the internal clock that regulates our body’s metabolism, temperature, and sleep/wake cycles. Frequently changing when you go to bed and wake up, traveling and dealing with time changes and jet lag, or even erratic weather and light patterns can disrupt our sleep and cause insomnia.
- Media is becoming a huge sleep disruptor, especially in children, teens, and young adults. The reason for this is three-fold:
- The light from the electronic devices is disrupting the body’s internal clock and it doesn’t start producing melatonin until later and later.
- People are keeping their phones and devices on at night which emits electromagnetic frequencies that disrupt sleep.
- People are woken up by notifications coming in and the constant “on-alert” mentality of checking a device every time a notification comes in.
- Poor sleep habits or environments might include too many stimulating activities before bed, eating too close to when you go to sleep, consuming media too close to bedtime, irregular bedtimes and wake times, an uncomfortable sleeping environment such as keeping the room too hot or cold or an unsupportive mattress, external noises that wake you up, using your bed for doing work, and the like.
- The use of drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine may also cause sleep disturbances and insomnia. These stimulants and other substances affect your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
- Food allergies and poor diet can also affect how you sleep. Diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and foods your body is sensitive to cause the immune system and organs in the body to work overtime to process these foods and balance out blood sugar levels, rather than resting and repairing the body.
- Other causes of insomnia may include:
- Mental health disorders
- Medical conditions that cause sleep disturbance such as waking to go to the bathroom (nocturia), sleep apnea, restless leg, diabetes, chronic pain, asthma, and others
- Nutritional and or biochemical deficiencies associated with aging
Hidden Causes of Insomnia
There also may be hidden causes of insomnia such as:
- Elevated cortisol
- Inflammation and pain
- Low melatonin levels
- Imbalanced neurotransmitters
- Menopause and perimenopause
- Thyroid disorders
- Lack of exercise
Self-Care Tips for Insomnia
- Change your Diet
- Eat a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, organic grass fed meats, good fats like avocado and coconut oil, and beans and legumes if you tolerate those foods
- Stop eating at least two hours before going to bed
- Don’t have a large meal in the evening before bed
- Avoid drugs, nicotine, and too much caffeine and alcohol
- Try some supplements that can help with sleep such as calcium, magnesium, melatonin, gaba, 5-htp, L-theanine, valerian root, passion flower, chamomile, ashwagandha and others. Ensure you’re also taking a high quality b-complex supplement and extra vitamin B1 and Vitamin B-6
- Reduce Stress
- Vigorous exercise, walking, socializing, reconnecting with friends and family, yoga and practicing being present can help bring your baseline stress levels down
- Start daily journaling to help get your thoughts down
- Create a plan for your life. Write down the things you want to do, change and improve. Write both short and long term goals. Create a plan that and start taking baby steps towards your goals.
- Create more margin in your life by cutting out unnecessary activities
- Create a Bedtime/Wake Routine
- Create a wind-down time in the evening
- Take a bath or shower to relax before bed
- Turn lights down and turn off all media 1-2 hours before bedtime
- Drink soothing decaffeinated tea in the evening
- Read, journal, meditate, pray, or do some other relaxing activity before bed
- Use essential oils and nighttime supplements
- Go to bed at close to the same time every night and wake up at the same time each day
- Try essential oils
Still Suffering with Insomnia?
If you’re still suffering from insomnia despite trying to handle it on your own, maybe it’s time to see a natural health insomnia specialist who can examine your symptoms, do a full medical checkup and locate the source(s) of your insomnia so you can get back to a healthy restorative sleep pattern, which will help you to have the more active lifestyle you really want.
See a Natural Health Insomnia Specialist
At LifeWorks we’ve seen hundreds of Tampa Bay residents with sleep problems and have successfully handled the condition in nearly all of them.
We have several ways to treat insomnia naturally. We can help assess what in your body, diet, lifestyle, and medical conditions may be contributed to your insomnia and then we can get you on a program you can get to sleep and get a good night’s rest.