What is insomnia and who is affected
This complex pathology of Western societies affects the entire population. All age groups are affected, whether elderly, adults or even sometimes children. There is no distinction between women and men either. Insomnia, which is a sleep disorder, corresponds to an inability to fall asleep in the evening or to nocturnal awakenings preventing the insomniac person from continuing his night. The consequences of insomnia are multiple and have an impact as well psychological as neurobiological or physical. The quality of sleep as well as its quantity are limited. Deep and restorative sleep is insufficient and health is therefore put at risk.
The biggest risk is moreover that insomnia becomes chronic since if the problem sets in and the pathology becomes chronic, it is very hard to get out. One enters a vicious circle, starting with bedtime which comes to be dreaded and then becomes a source of anxiety. The more sleep-deprived the sufferer is, the more anxious they become about getting to sleep, the more difficult it will be for them to fall asleep when they get the chance. The letting go is no longer happening and we can't surrender to our dreams.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
It is sometimes difficult to know if you are suffering from insomnia, but there are some very distinctive signs that can make it clearer and, if necessary, alert you. These symptoms are as follows:
- Laborious falling asleep. If whatever your state of tiredness you have trouble finding sleep, it is very likely that you will suffer from insomnia.
- If you your sleep is light, you tend to wake up at the slightest noise and once you are conscious, you find it difficult to pick up your night where you left off, this could be a sign that you are suffering from sleep disorders.
- If you wake up easily several times a night, for no apparent reason.
- If you have frequent nightmares.
- If you are prone to nighttime anguish.
Generally speaking, for a person to qualify as an insomniac, not only must they sleep no more than three to four hours per night, but also the sum of their nightly awakenings must exceed twenty minutes in total.
These many symptoms then cause drowsiness, untimely yawning, impaired concentration or memory and this throughout the day.
How exactly does insomnia work and what are its causes?
The origins of insomnia are therefore varied and sometimes linked to one or another period of life. Some people are more susceptible than others to insomnia problems of which there are two different forms:
- Primary insomnia
This form of insomnia can occur at particular times in life or recur regularly depending on various triggers such as stress, obsessive thoughts, mind ruminations etc.
- Secondary insomnia
This is associated with one or more other conditions, such as sleep apnoea, hyperthyroidism, allergies such as dust mites or even drug use that severely disrupt the circadian rhythm. It can also be the consequence of non-specific factors such as taking certain medications, fever, pain or breathing difficulties.
Coping with insomnia: natural tips and treatments
Bring in the light
The easiest way to deal with insomnia problems - whether they are related to disrupted cycles and circadian rhythm, anxiety or stress etc. - is still to work precisely on the body's natural rhythms.
You simply need to expose yourself to sufficient daylight daily and set yourself regular rising and lying times.By applying this to the letter, you should be able to notice a marked improvement after a fortnight already.
Rely on melatonin supplements
This hormone has a chronobiotic role as it is the main natural synchroniser of our sleep/wake rhythm. This is also called "sleep hormone"and is secreted by the epiphysis or pineal gland, which is located in the brain, from a precursor. It is important to know that the pineal gland is connected to the retina, which is sensitive to light. Melatonin production is triggered when the light decreases since this is what causes the retina to send a message to the pineal gland to ask it to produce melatonin supposedly to prepare the body for sleep. It then gradually decreases until it is replaced by cortisol, first thing in the morning, which is the wake-up hormone.
Drink valerian-based herbal teas
Valerian is a mild sedative herb with relaxing properties.It is perfect for sleep disorders when these are related to nervous restlessness or anxiety. Although there are other calming plants such as passionflower, hawthorn and lemon balm, valerian is the only one that has really proven itself against placebo. As such, it is recognised by the World Health Organisation for its action on sleep quality.
Use noble chamomile essential oil
Also known as "Roman chamomile", this essential oil is quite expensive but extremely effective due to its ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which acts on relaxation and sleep. It is therefore totally recommended in sleep disorders, in case of nervous excitement and dark thoughts.
CBD oil: the new ally of insomniacs
Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid molecule from the hemp plant, discovered during the 20th century by researchers in Illinois. It has interesting therapeutic properties and benefits particularly on anxiety and stress. Thus by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD modifies the message sent by the latter to the brain. In this way, cannabidiol decreases the intensity of neuronal activity, calming it and pushing to relaxation, while contributing to the decrease of their increase factors.
Therefore, CBD has an action on sleep homeostasis and helps to calm down. It therefore allows to regulate sleep as well as to enjoy an optimal recovery and cellular regeneration.