What causes Insomnia? Natural Sleeping Remedies

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:6 May 2016 

Insomnia keeping you awake at night? Going without sleep can leave you weary and grumpy during the day and in severe circumstances could even increase your risk of an accident or injury.


What is 'Normal Sleep'?

Sleeping is not a steady state in which we doze off into unconsciousness at bedtime and emerge feeling rested the next morning. During the hours in between, we go through several sleep cycles: sometimes we’re in a deep sleep, sometimes we’re in a lighter sleep (also known as rapid eye movement or REM sleep) and periodically we wake up for a little while – even if we don’t remember doing so in the morning. It goes without saying that your urge to go to sleep increases with every hour that you’re awake. 

Sleepiness is also regulated by your circadian rhythms, or ‘body clock’, which normally ensure that you’re wakeful during the daylight hours, and ready to sleep overnight. Anyone who has experienced jet lag or the disrupted sleep that often accompanies shift work has had a first hand insight into how off balance we can feel when we try to over-ride these in-built sleep regulators.


What is Insomnia?

The term insomnia is used to describe problems falling asleep, waking excessively during the night, or waking earlier than desired in the morning and then being unable to fall asleep again. Many sufferers experience a combination of these sleeping difficulties. Insomniacs commonly report feeling tired during the day and can also experience irritability, concentration problems, memory issues and related problems, such as difficulties in keeping up with their work or working to their expected standard.



What causes Insomnia?

In some cases, insomnia occurs alongside an underlying illness. These may include conditions associated with chronic pain (such as arthritis), mood problems (such as anxiety and depression) and other sleep disorders (such as sleep apnoea or restless legs syndrome). However, it is far more common for insomnia to occur as a consequence of stress.

The insomnia will usually resolve itself once the stressful situation is no longer an issue, but in some instances the poor sleeping habits have become habitual and the insomnia persists. Insomnia becomes more common as we get older, due in part to a declining need for sleep and the increased likelihood of experiencing medical problems that contribute to sleeping difficulties


Overcoming insomnia.

Many cases of transient insomnia can be successfully overcome using natural medicines such as valerian, hops, passionflower, lemon balm and lavender – herbs that have traditionally been used to ease nervous tension and support restful sleep. It’s also important that you take steps to manage your stress levels and to make sure that the things you eat, drink and do in the evening will help you fall asleep rather than stimulating you and increasing your alertness.

However, if you have experienced problems with insomnia for an extended period of time (a month or more), it’s important that you see your healthcare professional in order to determine whether any underlying health issues are contributing to the problem.