What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia is a pervasive condition which is estimated to affect around 30% of the adult population in the US at some point in their lives. For one out of every ten US adults, insomnia becomes a chronic problem.
Could you have insomnia? If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you very well may. This is especially true if the quality of your sleep is so poor that it is interfering with your daily life, leaving you fatigued throughout the day.
You may be wondering what is causing your insomnia. This all depends on the type of insomnia you have, and what other physical and psychological issues may be interfering with your sleep.
There are two basic types of insomnia: primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is a standalone disorder, which usually lasts for at least one month, but may last much longer. Secondary insomnia is actually a symptom of some other problem. The vast majority of insomnia cases fall under the category of secondary insomnia.
What Causes Primary Insomnia?
At this point in time, researchers are still not 100% sure what causes primary insomnia; it may have a genetic component. Researchers do know that it may be triggered by certain life events. Travel and other disruptions in your sleep routine may trigger your primary insomnia. Emotional stress which is particularly intense or lasts for a long time may also trigger primary insomnia.
What Causes Secondary Insomnia?
There are a number of different conditions and situations which may lead to secondary insomnia.
Physical causes may include:
- Neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
- An overactive thyroid.
- Any condition which is uncomfortable enough to keep you awake. Examples might include heartburn, headaches or arthritis.
- Restless legs syndrome.
Lifestyle causes may include:
- Poor sleep hygiene.
- An irregular sleep schedule or one which is not ideal.
- Too many stimulants (i.e. caffeine).
- Tobacco or other products containing nicotine.
- Sedatives like alcohol (ironically enough).
- Asthma medications.
- Allergy and cold medications.
- Beta blockers.
Psychological causes may include:
If you have more than one of these triggers or causes, you may be at an even higher risk for developing insomnia.
If your insomnia only lasts a short time, or is only an occasional issue which comes and goes, you may not need to do much to treat it. If lifestyle issues like an irregular sleep schedule or too much caffeine are interfering with your sleep, you can make changes to your daily routine that will combat insomnia.
In some cases however, insomnia may be severe or long-lasting, or caused by a factor which is currently outside of your control such as a medical problem or chronic psychological issue. In these situations, continuing to lose sleep does nothing to help you, so it is a good idea to consider treatment options.
There are over-the-counter medications that you can take for insomnia. These medications may work if all you need is an occasional short-term solution, but they are not ideal for long-term use. For this reason, you may want to consider a natural sleep remedy instead. Natural sleep supplements contain a healthy dosage of vitamins, herbs, and minerals which help your body to settle into a comfortable quality sleep routine. Unlike OTC medications, they are effective over the long-term without any nasty side effects.
If you are suffering from insomnia, it is wise to try and pin down the cause. That way you can treat the underlying condition or change the habit which is triggering your sleep loss. But if you still need a little extra help along the way, an herbal remedy is the best answer!
Natural Remedies for Insomnia
Having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep at night? You may be suffering from acute or chronic insomnia. Insomnia has many different causes, so the solutions that you need will depend in part upon the cause of your insomnia.
Below is a list of a number of different natural remedies and lifestyle changes that you can make to try and fall asleep more effectively at night. Depending on your situation, not all of these will necessarily be applicable, but a fair few of them probably will.
- Establish and stick with a sleep routine. Try to go to bed each night at the moment that you feel sleepiest. If you try to stay awake through this time, you may lose your window and have to wait for the next one. Resist the urge to change your sleep schedule every day. Afternoon naps help some people and harm others. Figure out what is right for you and make it a habit.
- Exercise. Research has demonstrated that those who get a reasonable amount of regular exercise sleep better at night. Should you work out before bed? For some individuals this seems to work well. For others it seems to cause problems. This is a case of figuring out what is best for you.
- Stay away from caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. If you cannot bring yourself to give them up entirely, then try to at least stay away from them at night.
- Do something relaxing before bedtime which takes your mind off of your troubles.
- Learn to trust your body. Researchers have discovered that people who suffer from insomnia and build up performance anxiety around sleep struggle even more to overcome their anxiety and get back to regular sleep routine.
- Use good sleep hygiene. This refers to the environmental conditions in which you sleep. If you can, make sure it is quiet or that you have white noise to help you drop off. Ensure that the room is actually dark, and if you do use lights, stick with those that have a red tone and avoid lights with a blue tone. Scientists have discovered the blue tone lights may interfere with natural circadian rhythms.
While all of these lifestyle changes may be a big help in naturally restoring restful sleep, for many people they will still not be enough. If you find this to be the case, your best move is to try a natural herbal remedy for sleep.
Herbs, vitamins and minerals which may help you to sleep include:
- Hops flower
- Vitamin B6
Just taking one of these supplements each night may greatly reduce your insomnia. For many people, a daily dose of magnesium or chamomile or melatonin may even take care of insomnia completely.
The most effective products however are those which contain not just one of these helpful herbs, but a blend. These natural sleep supplements give you the combined benefits of each, and can combat even the most severe cases of insomnia.
When you are struggling with insomnia, you may wonder if you will ever get a good night of sleep again—but it is possible. Do your best to let go of performance anxiety. Take steps to improve your sleep hygiene and normalize your routine. Start using a natural herbal sleep supplement, and trust that the changes you are making to your life will make a difference. If you do this with consistency, you should start experiencing improvements. A good night’s sleep could be just around the corner!
Herbs and Vitamins for Insomnia
Having a hard time falling asleep at night? Or do you get to sleep, but have a difficult time staying there once you do? If so, you might benefit from treating your insomnia with a natural remedy.
Why go with herbs and vitamins instead of an OTC sleep medication? OTC sleep medications can help you, but they are designed for short-term use, and for many people, insomnia is a chronic problem. OTC sleep medications lose their effectiveness over time, and researchers are also not sure what the health effects are of using them over an extended time period.
An herbal sleep supplement is a healthier choice, and it will continue to be effective over the long-term. For many people, herbal supplements also have fewer side effects (OTC medications may cause drowsiness and dizziness during the day).
What natural supplements can you try?
- Chamomile. Like many other herbal remedies, chamomile currently needs a lot more research. That said, there are some promising studies indicating it may help fight anxiety and insomnia. Whether this is true or not, chamomile tea is certainly very relaxing to drink, and the positive association alone can combat performance anxiety surrounding sleep.
- Passionflower. This herb is popularly used to fight both insomnia and anxiety, and has a long history of traditional use in the Americas as well as Europe.
- Hops flower. This plant is used to treat insomnia, anxiety, ADHD, and various other health conditions. At this point most evidence is anecdotal, but hops receives many positive reviews.
- Valerian. This herb has a sedative effect. Research results are mixed, but many insomnia sufferers report great results. Note that you may need to take it for at least several weeks before it becomes effective.
- Melatonin. This is a hormone which plays a key role in regulating the sleep cycle. Melatonin helps you to feel drowsy. Research is mixed, but many people report excellent results from taking it.
- Vitamin B6. B6 is necessary for the production of hormones such as serotonin which help us to get a restful night of sleep. If you are deficient in vitamin B6, supplementing it could help to normalize hormone production, leading to a reduction in insomnia. A lot of people could use more vitamin B6 (and other vitamins in the B complex) than they are getting.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is great both for promoting sleep and for reducing anxiety, which means it packs a one-two punch for fighting insomnia. It is common for people to need more magnesium than they are getting through their diets.
While much of the evidence backing up these natural remedies for insomnia is still anecdotal, initial studies do seem hopeful, and pave the way for future research.
How can you take herbal remedies for insomnia? Well, you have a few different options. The first is to take herbs for insomnia directly. Many people make a tea using valerian, passionflower, or other herbs on this list. The tea can be relaxing to drink, but it is a time-consuming process.
You have two other options. One is to take a supplement that contains just one of these herbs or nutrients. The other is to take a supplement that contains a blend of several or all of the herbs above. Taking a supplement containing just a single herbal remedy may help you to figure out what is most effective for you, but this process can take a while. This is why the ideal solution is usually just to purchase a supplement which contains a blend—that way you are taking the most powerful natural approach right from the start.
So there you have it—you don’t need to keep taking those OTC sleep pills to get the restful, restorative sleep you need! Try switching to an herbal supplement which helps your body to regulate hormone production and which soothes the anxiety that is keeping you awake. It’s a healthier alternative which can have great results!