Insomnia is not only the inability to sleep soundly, but it's also a disturbance in the amount and depth of sleep that one experiences. Anxiety and pain are the most common problems that make it difficult for some to ease into sleep. Some may find that they have no trouble falling asleep, but awake in the middle of the night and are unable to return to peaceful sleep. Although recommended amounts of sleep may vary, it is essential for the body and mind to get rest, and 7 to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep is ideal for health.
Although occasional sleeplessness may be a symptom of a serious disease, it if more often stress related. Just the concern that one may not be able to get a restful sleep, will cause tension in both the mind and body, resulting in insomnia.
Late day excitement or mental activity may also effect sleep in a negative way. Drinking beverages with high amounts of caffeine such as coffee, tea or cola drinks may make relaxing for a good night's sleep even more difficult.
Some vitamins that may be helpful for insomnia are B-complex, especially B12 and B6. Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, niacin, panthothenic acid, vitamin D and magnesium are very beneficial for calming the nerves and promoting sleep.
Herbal & Natural Remedies
Many popular herbs have relaxing, stress and anxiety relieving properties and can be excellent supplemental alternatives for sleep without using prescription or over-the-counter medications, which may have negative side-effects.
Herbs most noted for their treatment of insomnia are valerian, hops, skullcap, passion flower, dandelion, chamomile, marshmallow and hawthorn. A few drops of lavender essential oil can be used in a warm bath for relaxation, and is safe for children.
Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that has a very calming effect, and can be taken either alone or in combination with other natural supplements for sleep. Tryptophan is also a natural sleeping aid.
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland that controls sleep and wake cycles. Supplementation is especially beneficial for sleep problems in the elderly, as melatonin levels drop with age, and can range from very small amounts to none in the system. Melatonin is best taken one half hour before bed, and in a darkened room. Doses as small as 1/2mg can be very effective, but the common dose is 1-3mg. for sleep.
Ideally, living a healthy lifestyle, exercising and proper nutrition would naturally result in restful sleep. Changing the patterns of thought associated with sleep and incorporating new bedroom routines may help. Leisurely evening walks, warm baths (epsom salt), massage, warm milk, soft music or quiet meditation will all be conducive to a good night's sleep.
Watching TV in the bedroom, eating in bed, and excessive alcohol consumption are all detrimental to restful sleep. When help is needed, there are many natural alternatives to choose from to help deal with insomnia.