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Insomnia

Facts about Insomnia

Summary

  • 37% of Americans suffer from insomnia.
  • Most insomnia is due to social (bedroom and bedtime related), psychological (anxiety and depression), medical illness (congestive heart failure and chronic pain), medication side effects as well as day and night cycle issues.
  • Lifestyle changes like not eating or watching television close to bedtime, moderating caffeine and alcohol intake and establishing a bedtime ritual based on breath-work and meditation are first line of defense against insomnia.
  • Western medications like benzodiazepines or newer sedatives are fine for 7-10 day use but destroy your sleep architecture in the long term. Benzodiazepines (Ativan, xanax and klonopin) are notoriously hard to wean and are associated with higher death rates when used long term.
  • Benadryl is not habit forming and works very well for short term use in insomnia.
  • Acupuncture and massage are very helpful in breaking the cycle of sleeplessness and fatigue.
  • Ayurveda recommendations from food (soups, milk and ghee) as well as herbs like ashwaganda work very well in insomnia.
  • Your Zanjabee healthcare practitioner can guide you as to which combination of lifestyle measures and herbs is right for you.
  • Western herbs like valerian, passion flower and hops are also effective in insomnia.

Lifestyle Tips to Manage Sleep

You have insomnia when you are not happy with your sleep. You may be dissatisfied with the quality, duration or continuation of your sleep. You may have difficulty falling asleep (initial insomnia), get up in the middle of the night (middle insomnia) or get up earlier than you like (late insomnia). 37% of Americans complain of insomnia every year and 10% of us have chronic insomnia lasting more than 6 weeks.

Risk Factors for Insomina include:

  • Female gender
  • Advancing age
  • Anxiety prone thinking style (Vata constitution)
  • Hyper arousal close to bed time ( violent movie after dinner)
  • Previous problems with sleep

Causes of Insomnia:

More than 50% of insomnia is due to social reasons like watching TV or exercising too close to bedtime or within the bedroom. Insomnia is often related to anxiety and depression. See table for other causes of Insomnia.

Causes of Insomnia

Effects of Insomnia

Effects of Insomnia

Stages of Sleep

Sleep has 5 stages. Stage 1 and 2 are light sleep when we are transitioning from awake to asleep state. Rapid Eye Movement or REM is sleep during which we dream and Stage 3 & 4 are deep and restorative stages of sleep.

Stages of Sleep

Many prescription medications profoundly affect sleep. The five most prescribed medication in the US are:

  1. Paxil (SSRI)
  2. Lexapro (SSRI)
  3. Hydrocodone (Opiate – morphine related pain medication)
  4. Xanax (Benzodiazepine)
  5. Tramadol (Opiate like pain medication)

Medications for Insomnia

Paxil and Lexapro deplete the stage of sleep in which we dream (REM) and affect the ability of sleep to refresh us if taken for long periods of time. Morphine related pain medications reduce dreaming (REM) as well as deep restorative stages (III and IV) of sleep. One of worst offenders are Benzodiazepines which are ironically given to treat insomnia. Benzodiazepines reduce the time we take to sleep and make it harder for us to wake up making us believe that they are helping us sleep while destroying the quality of sleep. They increase light (Stage 2) sleep and reduce restorative sleep (Stage III & IV). Tramadol is similar to morphine in its impact on sleep.

Lifestyle Tips to Manage Sleep

Life Style Tips to Manage Sleep

Lifestyle Tips to Manage Sleep

Integrative Approach to Treatment of Insomnia

Integrative Approach To Insomnia

Lifestyle Tips to Manage Sleep

Ayurveda Approach to Insomnia

Ayurveda Approach to Insomnia