Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.
Insomnia is a relatively common sleeping disorder, affecting about 1/3 of the adult population worldwide, and is more common in women, but quality of sleep often decreases equally in both women and men as we age.
There are a variety of factors that cause insomnia:
- Stress (including anxiety about not being able to sleep)
- Extreme Temperature Fluctuations
- Environmental Noise or Changes
- Medication Side Effects
- Disruption of Regular Sleep Pattern
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep Apnea
- Overuse of Stimulants, Sugar or Alcohol
- Lack of Physical Activity
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Smart Phone Usage (NEW Study discussed below)
Lifestyle can also affect insomnia, as studies have shown that alcohol and caffeine intake and smoking cigarettes before bedtime disrupts sleep, as can excessive napping in the afternoon or evening. Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication.
Smart Phone Usage Study
Research suggests that using a cell phone before going to bed could cause insomnia, headaches and confusion. It can also cut your amount of deep sleep, interfering with your body‘s ability to refresh itself. In this study 35 men and 36 women were exposed either to radiation equivalent to that received when using a cell phone, or given “sham” exposure as an experimental control. The ones who were actually exposed to radiation took longer to enter the deeper stages of sleep, and spent less time in the deepest one.
Researcher Professor Bengt Arnetz said that, “The study strongly suggests that mobile phone use is associated with specific changes in the areas of the brain responsible for activating and coordinating the stress system.”
The radiation may also disrupt production of the hormone melatonin, which controls your body‘s internal rhythms.
You don’t have to live with insomnia, it’s possible to cure insomnia without drugs by living a healthy lifestyle changes. Check out some of the best tips!
Top Foods for Insomnia
- Foods High in Tryptophan – This amino acid stimulates the production of serotonin, which helps with relaxation. Include turkey, chicken or tuna for dinner.
- Complex Carbs – Carbohydrates also help with the production of serotonin, so try to include butternut squash or sweet potatoes into your dinner.
- Raw Milk – Although dairy can be problematic for some, a glass of raw milk before bed does help with sleep. A2 dairy is recommended from goat’s, sheep, or A2 cows.
- Foods high in magnesium – Magnesium is known as the “relaxation” mineral. Include green leafy vegetables, sesame and sunflower seeds, and oats into your diet.
- B-vitamins – Organic meat, brewer’s yeast, liver and green leafy vegetables are high in B-vitamins. Consume foods high in vitamin B12 as your best sources.
Foods to Avoid
- Caffeine – Don’t consume caffeine after noon or at all if you are having difficulty sleeping.
- Alcohol – Stop drinking alcohol at least 2 hours before bed and drink in moderation. Drink Water or coconut water to re-hydrate before bed.
- Potential Food Allergens – Food allergies can cause insomnia.
- Sugar – Variations in blood sugar can cause insomnia.
- High Fat Foods – Fat slows down digestion and may lead to indigestion at night. Limit fried foods before bedtime.
Top Natural Insomnia Remedies
- Melatonin (1-3 mg half hour before bed)
Helps promote sleep, best used for a short period of time.
- Calcium & Magnesium (500 mg calcium/250 mg magnesium)
These minerals work together for relaxation.
- Vitamin B12 (1500 mcg daily)
Vitamin B12 supports cellular function and a deficiency can cause insomnia.
- Passionflower (500 mg before bed)
Helps relax the nervous system and doesn’t cause drowsiness.
- Valerian (600 mg before bed)
Is effective for insomnia, but may be a stimulant for some.
- Limit Cell Phone Usage Before Bed
- Lifestyle Remedy
Before bed read a relaxing book or spend time journaling to get everything off of your mind. Also, sleep in a cold dark room. Establish a consistent bedtime routine. Take a warm bath, go for a relaxing stroll, or practice meditation/relaxation exercises as part of your regular nighttime routine. Learn and use a relaxation technique regularly. Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are good examples.