Insomnia is a common feature and is prevalent in young and old alike. A decreased level of melatonin in the brain is one reason why people are not able to sleep.
Stress, depression or a deficiency in magnesium or iron could be other causes for insomnia. Sometimes there is a hormonal imbalance or individuals suffer from RLS(restless leg syndrome) which prevents from getting adequate sleep.
There are other reasons but what is more important is how to treat insomnia? The more natural the cure is for insomnia, the better it is, for drugs can have many side effects.
What you eat or drink before retiring for the day may have an impact on your sleep pattern. So do ensure that you do not overeat and also that you do not take any stimulating beverage like coffee. Stick to the good old glass of warm milk. It contains Tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin (the good feel chemical) and then to melatonin—the sleep-inducing chemical. Avoid eating sweets and try to eat magnesium rich foods for dinner. Magnesium is a natural sleep-inducing element and is found in legumes, dark leafy vegetables, almonds, and whole grains.
Honey is also said to promote sleep and is a good wholesome natural cure for insomnia. 2 teaspoons in a large cup of water should do the trick. In fact a cup of Chamomile tea with honey is even better. Bedtime tea consisting of valerian root, kava kava, chamomile and catnip in the right proportion is a very calming concoction. Another cure for insomnia, which is supposed to work wonders, is to take a pinch of cinnamon, roast it until it turns black. Boil this in water (a glassful) and take it just half an hour before you want to retire. It is professed to work.
The use of vitamins and minerals in our lives cannot be emphasized enough. Calcium, The B vitamins and Vitamin D contribute in the regulating of the nervous system. So approximately 1000mg calcium, combined with about 400 units of vitamin D and B complex should in the long run ensure that your insomnia is cured. In India, Ayurveda states that insomnia is because of a “vata” imbalance. Massaging with oil on the extremities with either warm mustard or sesame oil is said to cure insomnia. In many parts of India, we see this being done and very effectively too.
Aromatherapy is gaining ground as a natural remedy. Chamomile and lavender oils do promote sleep and also lengthen sleep time, making individuals feel refreshed. A lavender sachet under your pillow, or 2 drops of lavender oil applied to the temples is believed to induce sleep. The oil actually helps muscles to relax, and decreases the metabolic activity. Massaging the neck and shoulders with a few drops of either chamomile, lavender, sandalwood or rose oil is very soothing and calms the nerves. What massage actually does is to increase the levels of Tryptophan, which in turn increases the levels of serotonin and that in turn causes melatonin to be produced. Not only does massage increase the circulation of blood, but also helps to push the lymph fluids into the blood stream thus ensuring optimum utilization of body chemicals.
Acupressure and acupuncture may help to cure insomnia. Acupressure would involve applying pressure to the back of head at the base of the skull while prolonged acupuncture (4-5 weeks) increases the amount of melatonin produced in the evening. PMR or progressive muscle relaxation is a great natural remedy for insomnia.
What is involved here is a constant tensing and relaxing of muscle groups. This in turn relaxes the mind and the body and hastens sleep. Breathing exercises like pranayama hasten sleep.
Learning to breathe deeply and slowly so as to involve the diaphragm as you inhale and exhale and focusing on your breathing encourages you to divert your mind from anything that is stressful. This should soothe and calm your nerves lulling you to sleep. Some yoga postures that you can do lying down without any strain while listening to relaxing music de stresses your body.
Hydrotherapy is stated to set up a rhythm in the body. Stand in the bathtub so that the water covers your ankles and march up and down for about five minutes. It may help you to sleep. Visualization or imagery relaxation when practiced properly helps the body to relax. Visualize smooth motions, peaceful scenes, and relaxing actions in a repetitive manner. It works very much like the proverbial counting sheep. Use cotton bedding and make your bed as comfortable as possible. Remove all the clutter in the vicinity and open the windows to let in the fresh air. Do not look at the clock, it will only reinforce the fact that you are not sleeping when you actually should be. Do not worry if you cannot sleep, the worry itself is enough to keep you awake.
See that the bedroom is dimly lit, bright light can keep you awake and also influence hormone production. Try to shut out outside noise by using a ear plug or by switching on the fan to mask the irritant. Keep bedtimes consistent and do not do any work while in bed. Put an end to those quick catnaps that you tend to have in the afternoon. Learn to combat stress. Set realistic demands, indulge in hobbies and pleasant pastimes, and have a quiet period for introspection. Avoid watching or reading about anything aggressive. In short, do not stimulate the visual cortex.