Everyone needs their sleep, and those who are in mental health recovery need it most of all. A good night of solid rest will help you to tackle each day’s challenges with high spirits, creativity, and vigor—while a lack of sleep can cause mental health symptoms to spiral. Not everyone finds it easy to fall asleep, though, or to stay asleep through the night. Sleepless nights are all too common, and the causes of insomnia are numerous. If you find that insomnia is sapping your mental fortitude, or stalling your recovery, then a good first step is to think through some of its likely causes.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is the inability to obtain an adequate amount or quality of sleep. The difficulty can be in falling asleep, remaining asleep, or both. People with insomnia do not feel refreshed when they wake up. Insomnia is a common symptom affecting millions of people that may be caused by many conditions, diseases, or circumstances.
Types of insomnia
There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
# Primary insomnia
This is when the sufferer has sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
# Secondary insomnia
This is when the sufferer has sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer or heartburn; pain; medicine being taken; or a substance being used, like alcohol.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia is usually a manifestation of another disease or condition, it requires understanding and finding causes of sleeping problems. The most common causes of insomnia:
- mental illness,
- disease of inner organs,
- intake of psychotropic drugs,
- alcohol, caffeine, nicotine
- toxic factors,
- hormonal changes,
- syndromes that occur during sleep (sleep apnea syndrome, sleep movement disorders),
- external environmental factors (noise, moisture, etc),
- shift work,
- jet lag,
- violation of sleep hygiene,
- eating too much late in the evening.
It is important to note that the most frequent cause of insomnia is psychological factors (anxiety, depression).
Symptoms Of Insomnia
Insomnia symptoms may include:
- Difficulty falling asleep night
- Awakening during the night
- Awakening too early
- Not feeling well rested after a night’s sleep
- Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
- Increased errors or accidents
- Tension headaches
- Distress in the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract)
- Ongoing worries about sleep
People suffering from insomnia will often take 30 minutes or more to fall asleep and may get only six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights a week over a month or more.
You should change your sleep habits and find out causes of insomnia, it is helpful to restore sleep. If these measures are not effective, your doctor may recommend medications to help with relaxation and sleep.
Natural Remedies for Treating Insomnia
Including certain foods in your daily diet along with these home remedies can help in improving the quality of sleep and treat transient Insomnia.
Relax with Some Light Yoga
One of the best home remedies for good sleep is to practice light yoga poses that promote sleep by relaxing the muscles and nerves and reducing stress. Simple yoga poses such as neck rolls, shoulder rolls, forward bends, arm and back stretches and the corpse pose can help to loosen and unwind the tense and stressed muscles.
Sleep experts prescribe regular physical exercise as a natural treatment of insomnia. An hour of moderately intense workouts has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, mood and energy. The reason might lie in the fact that strenuous physical activity promotes the releass of endorphins that help in improving the quality of sleep, boosts energy and reduces the symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety.
Take Aromatic Bath
Make it a daily ritual to unwind your muscles and relax your senses by taking nourishing aromatic bath before going to bed. Taking a hot bath by adding a few drops of lavender or roman chamomile oil to the water can enhance the mood of relaxation as well as relieve stress and depression, thus helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for a longer period of time so that you wake up refreshed and rejuvenated.
The health benefits of herbs in treating various diseases and health conditions are well known. Valerian is one such medicinal herb that has been used for ages to treat sleeping disorders and Insomnia. Certain chemicals present in valerian has powerful muscle-relaxant and sedative properties that help in soothing stress, anxiety and muscle tension. The roots of valerian have the highest concentration of these chemicals. Taking two capsules of valerian root an hour before going to bed can be helpful in promoting restful sleep.
Nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are a rich source of healthy unsaturated fats that are not only beneficial for heart health, but also balance the levels of serotonin – one of the most important neurotransmitters that help in regulating the sleep-wake cycle of the body. Imbalanced serotonin levels can lead to depression, chronic fatigue and lack of restful sleep. Stay away from foods with high levels of saturated fats and trans-fats.
Cherry juice acts as an amazing natural medicine for sleep. This is because it contains high levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycles and promoting restful sleep. Melatonin puts the body to sleeping mode by bringing forth drowsiness and lowering the body temperature. Imbalance of the hormone melatonin in the body can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle and lead to lack of sleep and Insomnia.
Substituting simple carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice and white bread with complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grain breads, pasta and cereals are one of the most effective insomnia remedies. Simple carbohydrates tend to disrupt the balance of serotonin thus affecting sleep.
The benefits of honey for health and skin are numerous, but it also plays an important role in improving the quality of sleep. The natural sugar present in honey increases the level of insulin slightly which helps the release of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is the compound that helps in promoting sleep. Therefore, consuming a spoonful of honey before going to bed or adding it to a cup of herbal tea can help in improving the quality of sleep considerably.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Eating leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, etc. are a great way of improving the quality of sleep. These leafy vegetables are loaded with minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium- all of which play important roles in promoting sleep. Calcium increases the level of melatonin that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle whereas potassium and magnesium help in relaxing and unwinding the stressed muscles.
Certain beverages such as warm milk, herbal or green tea can help promote restful sleep. Milk, being an excellent source of calcium helps in increasing the production of melatonin by the brain. Green tea is a rich source of antioxidants that fight cancer. Amino acid L-theanine present in green tea has been shown to improve the quality of sleep too. Soothing herbal teas such as chamomile or peppermint tea also helps in relaxing the mind and the body.
Include these foods in your daily diet and follow the home remedies to improve your sleeping pattern. But most importantly make your sleep tranquil and comfortable by keeping your bedroom and your bed clean and wearing comfortable clothes to bed.