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insomnia
How To Treat Insomnia
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Insomnia therapy. What comes to mind? What is the sleep cycle? What are the primary symptoms? What types of insomnia are there? What are the causes? What are the medical treatments? What complementary therapies are available? What particular diets are beneficial for the sleep cycle?

Over recent years there has been more intensive research on the sleep cycle. When the body clock works well we are sleepy when it is dark and active when daylight occurs. However, for many of us this is not the case where the circadian rhythm becomes dysfunctional and certain types of insomnia begin to occur.

Primary insomnia is classed as any disturbance to sleep patterns lasting at least one month but secondary insomnia is often due to asthma or depression. Psychophysiological insomnia is triggered by negative events creating grief or stress persisting long after the event has passed. Idiopathic insomnia is life long sleeplessness attributed to abnormalities in the nerochemical control of the sleep-wake cycle.

Poor quality sleep leads to disorientation, weight gain among those who sleep onnly 2-4 hours per night, mood swings, irritability, poor concentration, anxiety, depression, reduced autoimmunity, memory loss, accidents, injuries, relationship breakdowns. Besides this individuals feel emotional and frustrated, inability to focus and concentrate and cope with simple tasks or articulate or control emotions, emotional detachment, deteriorating social and communication skills, not making clear decisions but snap decisions, paranoia, aggression, apathy.

Physical signs of insomnia include dry and itchy eyes, increased appetite, bad skin, impaired vision, dry lips, drop in our body temperature and disturbed sleep patterns.

Sleep has two main states which are REM and non-REM. In thje non-REM stage there is 10 minutes of muscle relaxation and brainwave patterns shutting down followed by 15 minutes of k complex brain waves before slower and rolling brain waves lead you into deep sleep where heart rate and blood pressure slows, breathing is now slow and regular for 15 minutes before entering the last phase where muscles are relaxed. In this phase, the body repairs itself and fights damage and illness. So, this is one hour into your sleep cycle.

Briefly following this is re-emergence into consciousness before turning over and entering REM sleep where high-frequency waves appear as you enter REM sleep. Here, your eyeballs are moving beneath your lids as you dream. About 90 minutes is the full cycle for non-REM and REM sleep which is repeated at least 6 times over throughout the average 8 hours sleep.

Advanced sleep phase syndrome is where individuals go to bed early say 6pm for an early morning start at 6am but awaken at 2am having had the normal adult quota of 8 hours. Light therapy moves bedtime back to the normal pattern of 10pm.

Delayed sleep phase syndrome occurs where the individual doesn't fall asleep at the normal sleep time of 10pm but much later on after 12pm. Anxiety about rising early for work combined with the onset of depression and frustration are underlying factors. Light therapy and chronotherapy and melatonin dietary treatments are used to reverse this condition.

Parasomnia is another disorder which disrupts the sleep pattern as the individual easily falls asleep only to keep waking up in fits throughout the night. As a result the individual feels disturbed and worn out. Teeth grinding, night terrors, bedwetting, sleep talking, somnambulism keep us awake throughout the night.

Snoring is the most common form of insomnia which affects 3.5 million individuals in Britain and can be both draining and frustrating.

Men have thin air pipes and lose muscle tone as they age so they snore much more than women. When the soft palate at the back of the throat relaxes and obstructs the entrance to the throat, once the air passes through the soft palate vibrates to produce the snoring sound. Excess weight increases snoring as does nasal congestion. Sleeping on the back only exacerbates the problem because the tongue falls back into the throat which narrows the airway and blocks the airflow.

Sleep apnoea alters our normal breathing patterns so while asleep, sufferers can stop breathing for 10-25 seconds which both depletes the bloodstream and deprives the brain of oxygen forcing the individual to wake up and take big gulps of air. As this can happen over 300 times in one night with the individual feeling sweaty with headaches and dry mouth, it is serious. However, lifestyle changes such as losing weight or sleeping on your side or prescribing continuous positive airway device are effective treatments.

Anxiety symptoms often persist after the trigger has been identified leading to free floating anxiety where an unpleasant sleep association has developed leading to sleepless nights without any healing rest. Having a racing mind, worry, insecurity, fear, irritability, panic characterise anxiety. Muscle tension, nervousness, trembling , palpitations, dry mouth are recognisable signs and symptoms.

Depression is often associated with insomnia with diverse symptoms such as being unable to sleep, waking frequently, waking early or sleeping for excessive amounts of time. Signs and symptoms include hopelessness, weight loss, withdrawal from social interaction, fatigue, guilt, negative thought patterns, indecision. However, once the depression is treated the signs of insomnia disappear.

Extrinsic insomnia is experiencing sleep deprivation through stress and life changing events. Such as new babies, the menopause, death of family members or illnesses. Sleep deficits occur when sleeping for too short a period of time which needs treatment. Long hours and demanding schedules are more often than not to blame with sleep deficiency affecting lateral thinking and creativity. Lack of interest and motivation is the end result. If mid-morning naps are taken, focus is restored . Less accidents will occur. Impaired personal relationships can be restored and suppressed immune systems can be repaired.

Knowing how to manage our reaction to stress is essential to having good night sleep. In fact, the top priority for being healthy is achieving a good night's sleep even more than good nutrition and regular exercise. Sleep is essential to have any positive impact on your personal relationships and makes you happy and relaxed while making you prepared to cope with the strains of everyday living. In fact, it keeps you sharp, alert, engaged, mentally active, creative, healthy as it boosts your immune system.

Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, sugar all play havoc with our sleep patterns as our blood sugars crash after too much convenience foods, hidden sugars, food chemical additives and sweeteners. Eating foods in their natural state is the answer to avoiding hidden sugars in processed foods. Balanced energy and concentration leads to good night sleep. Eating smaller amounts often through the day is best.

If energy levels are kept constant, this helps us to concentrate and stops us constantly refuelling by making us calmer and more balanced. About 3.5 pints of water per day, fresh fruit to slowly release energy, lunch time protein-rich lean meats, cheese, eggs, yogurt, fish or beans, nuts, seeds to keep the circadian rhythm levels balanced or even baked beans help the body overcome low blood sugar. Porridge is another complex carbohydrate to keep your energy levels balanced.

Sleep-inducing foods rich in the chemical tryptophan have sedative effects. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps to build protein but speeds the onset of sleep, decreases spontaneous awakenings, increases the length of sleep. By eating low glycaemic index foods 4 hours before bedtime will relax you. Bananas, milk, almonds, oats, pumpkin seed, wheat, eggs, redmeat, soybean, tofu, avocados, mandarins and above all lettuce juiced is renowned for being sleep inducing..

Tryptophan, calcium, magnesium help the mind to rest and can be found in sleep inducing soothing drinks such as passionflower, camomile, lemon balm, verbena. Magnesium is naturally occurring in apples, nuts, apricots, sesame seeds. Vitamin C turns glucose into energy, maintains healthy skin and is found in all fresh citrus fruit, berries, vegetables. Melatonin supplements promote sleep well. Melatonin is what makes you feel sleepy and lowers the body temperature, slows down the heart rate and allows the body to enter sleep mode.

Ginseng stops the production of excess cortisol stress hormone at night and stimulates the production of serotonin. So, if you have stress related insomnia and burnout, ginseng can reverse this condition.


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  about 8 years ago
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