What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder suffered by up to 50 per cent of people in any one year. It can mean difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking too early in the morning.
Insomnia occurs when you have difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, wake often during the night, wake very early in the morning, or any combination of these problems. It's a common disorder; an estimated 15 to 17 percent of the population suffers from insomnia at any given time. The causes can be many, and if you have a prolonged problem with sleeping, you should think about an evaluation by a sleep disorders specialist. Many hospitals nowadays run clinical centers devoted to determining the cause of sleeplessness because of its great impact on productivity and driver safety. But if you are troubled by a short period of sleepless nights—for example, while you are under stress—what can you do nutritionally to help to improve your chances of a good night's sleep? The "don'ts" outnumber the "dos" in this instance, but let's take a look in Insomnia diet.

Causes of insomnia

Insomnia is caused by many disorders, with psychological factors probably accounting for around half of all types. Depression, anxiety and stress are closely associated with insomnia, and other causes include chronic pain, disease, lack of physical exercise, nutrient deficiencies and stimulants such as caffeine, tobacco, chocolate and alcohol. Sensitive people should avoid these, particularly late at night. Some medications cause insomnia. Sleep requirements lessen with age and elderly people experiencing changes in sleep patterns may need reassurance that these changes are normal.

InsomniaTreatment and prevention of insomnia

This depends on the underlying cause. There are several measures that may be useful. These include regular exercise (but not before bed), avoidance of stimulants, developing a regular bedtime routine, warm baths before bedtime; and avoidance of distractions that promote wakefulness. Drinking warm milk, or eating a high carbohydrate snack before bed also helps some people sleep. Medications such as sedatives and hypnotics are sometimes prescribed for people suffering from insomnia. These are potentially addictive and should only be taken for short periods.

What makes insomnia worse?

•  Caffeine, because it is a stimulant, causes a decrease in total time your brain keeps you asleep. Some people tolerate larger amounts of caffeine even late at night (some true caffeine junkies, which unfortunately describes us, can drink coffee or tea just before bedtime without worry), and others will stare wide-eyed at the walls if they have a cup of real coffee after noon. Recommendation: If you have trouble sleeping, decaffeinate yourself. We have provided a regimen of slow decaffeination under Breast Disease, Benign, which you can follow to kick your coffee habit without the misery of caffeine withdrawal.

•  Alcohol disrupts your normal sleep cycle, preventing dream sleep in the early part of the night and increasing it later, causing vivid dreams and frequent awakening. Recommendation: Contrary to the old wives' remedy of a "hot toddy" for sleep, you should avoid alcohol if you are experiencing insomnia.

•  Research psychologist Dr. James Penland believes that many women suffer from copper and iron deficiencies, and that these deficiencies cause insomnia. If you suspect you may be one of these women, have a hair analysis done.

•  Tyramine increases the release of norepinephrine, which stimulates the brain. Avoid foods that contain tyramine: bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, spinach, tomatoes, and wine. If you must eat them, do so in the morning or early afternoon.

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