When speaking about health today, changing lifestyle and the ever increasing amount of stress is the main concern becoming the root cause of all health issues. The frantic pace of life has an enormous impact on us. Fortunately, the human body is very adaptive and many of the unwanted stimuli/events can be filtered away…. But stress gets to all ultimately and disrupts the normal adaptive mechanism and prevents normal function. The first indicative parameter of a normally functioning body is Sleep. “Sleep is as vital as sunshine or food or the air we breathe. some of the most important processes like repair, rejuvenation, detoxification, growth and balance occur during deeper stages of sleep. Lack of sound sleep indicates ill health”- Luke Countinho (wellness & lifestyle coach)
Insomnia is defined as: Subjective perception of difficulty with sleep initiation, duration, consolidation or quality that occurs despite adequate opportunity for sleep and that results in some form of daytime impairment.
Insomnia is a fairly common sleep complaint characterized by presence of the following:
- A hard time initiating sleep
- Struggling to maintain sleep- frequent waking during the night
- Waking up too early and inability to go back to sleep.
- Non restorative or poor quality sleep.
The vitally important function of sleep is based upon the inner biological requirement to insert periods of pause into our psycho-physical life cycle. Sleep and wakefulness are governed by two parallel systems: the arousal system and the sleep system. For sleep to occur, the arousal system should subside. Chronic Insomniacs tend to have an overcharged/ overactive arousal system- resulting in increased periods of wakefulness with broken, fragmented and unsatisfying sleep.
COMMON CAUSES AND SYMPTOMATOLOGY
Insomnia is caused due to a myriad of biological, psychological and social factors.
Anxiety, pain, habit consumption of stimulants like alcohol/tea/coffee, over exposure to electronic gadgets, uncomfortably bedding, noisy surroundings, excitement, hunger….. to be frank any and every stimulus has possibility of making the individual loose sleep and hence the subjective understanding of each patient is essential in making the diagnosis.
The ICSD-2 classifies insomnia into 8 subtypes. What is important is to understand the causes and effects of this disorder rather than the nosology.
Insomnia is considered a disorder only when it causes significant amount of distress or anxiety or when it results in daytime impairment.
A higher rate is now seen in young and middle ages along with elderly. Insomnia is quite commonly related to psychiatric illnesses more commonly Anxiety disorders and mood disorders. Also individuals with a long standing medical condition show insomnia prevalence either due to the condition itself or due to the medication.
Common effects (these usually are the presenting symptoms of consultation): fatigue, moodiness, irritability/ anger, lack of concentration, poor memory, poor quality of performance, lack of energy/ enthusiasm, anxiety about sleep, frequent headaches/stomach upsets/ such other recurring physical symptoms.
Insomnia is a disorder that is Psycho- Somatic (i.e affecting mind and body) at level of causes as well as effects.
VARIOUS TREATMENT METHODS
Insomnia is a public health problem.
This disorder is primarily diagnosed by clinical evaluation through a detailed sleep history, detailed medical and psychiatric history. People with insomnia often misjudge the amount of sleep they get each night. A ‘sleep diary’ is an effective way of estimation of the sleeping hours and pattern. While assessing a probable insomniac, both the duration and quality of sleep needs to be considered.
The goals of treatment:
#1 a. improve sleep quality and quantity
- improve insomnia related daytime impairments/ issues
#2 a. forming a positive and clear link between sleeping and sleeping environment (eg. Bed)
- improve sleep related psychological distress.
Psychological and behavioural interventions are very effective in treatment of chronic insomnia. Initial approaches of treatment usually include behavioural intervention therapies or cognitive therapies. The combined approach is highly favoured due to its success: Cognitive Behaviour therapy for insomnia
Cognitive therapy→ changing attitudes and beliefs that hinder sleep
Sleep hygiene training→ correcting bad habits that contribute to poor sleep
Behaviour intervention techniques.
Pharmacological treatments in conventional medicine are also available, but popping the sleeping pill is not always a very effective solution as it fails to solve the underlying problem.
HOMOEOPATHY AND INSOMNIA
Homoeopathy is the healing art that gives a lot of importance to the underlying cause of any problem. Prescription of the homoeopathic remedy largely depends on the identification of cause of problem based on its presenting symptoms. Homoeopathy, thus, reflects on both sides of the Cause=Effect equation and is a successful modality in treatment of the widespread new age psychosomatic disorders such as insomnia.
Just to consider the symptom ‘Sleeplessness or insomnia’ we have about 300 homoeopathic remedies that can be considered. The brilliance of homoeopathy is that each minute detail the patient provides further classifies and clarifies the search for the exact remedy that is needed for the patient… this provides a subjectivity to the treatment – what we can call tailored to perfection. (this is the exact reason why homoeopaths ask so many questions. Every minute detail amplifies the individual aspect of the complaints)
The beauty of homoeopathy is that we have a medicine for every kind of sleeplessness and for every kind of impairment arising due to that sleeplessness; and hence it is necessary to consult an expert homoeopath who would analyse the issue and provide with a most feasible solution (rather than relying on heresay over the counter medication -which act only in a limited manner)
LIFESTYLE CHANGE TIPS
With shifting focusses on career and changing mindsets regarding self growth, the most important treatment modality in any psycho somatic disturbance is necessary changes in lifestyle. When considering insomnia, modification of sleep habits is the most essential change one needs to make. Maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule, avoidance of use of electronics and gadgets around scheduled sleep time, reducing (or completely discontinuing) consumption of stimulants, managing good meal timings, etc become basic necessities to initiate good sleeping hygiene.
Utilizing breathing techniques and meditation for purpose of mind body relaxation is a very valuable way of regulating effects of stress. A lot of self help books and videos are readily available to us for the purpose of initiating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One should not feel any embarrassment or shyness to ask for expert help.
The key to wellness is balanced nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep and emotional stability. Integration of these into our lifestyle needs some Vitamin-E(effort) from our side.
“Lets build wellness rather than treating diseases.”
-Dr. Apoorva Deshpande
M.D.(Homoeopathy), M.S( counselling & psychotherapy), MA( clinical psychology)
Consulting homoeopath, psychologist and counsellor
@ Nachiket Clinic- Homoeopathy & Counselling