Stress Related Sleeplessness and Insomnia from a natural point of view.
Before starting a discussion on the causes and mechanics of Sleeplessness and Insomnia it is important to state that the human body can be trained by routine. A daily routine of going to bed and awakening at a constant interval creates a cycle that the body will itself find necessary. This is the best way of assuring a good nights sleep assuming of course that the body is healthy and that there are no extenuating circumstances. Also, as a general rule, every hour of sleep had before midnight is like two hours after midnight.
Television itself is an enticing sleep inhibitor because it can become addicting. Many will watch it transfixed into the early hours disrupting a normal and natural sleep pattern. The same goes for computers. There is no remedy for these two culprits in sleeplessness and insomnia other than turning them off! This may not be as easy as it may sound for some. When addicted to these habits and one tries to go back to a more normal sleep habit by trying to go to bed earlier, one will find that they will not fall asleep. It can take between 20-30 days of going to bed and awaking at a consistent time before the body reestablishes its sleep rhythm again.
Clearly these are not situations of insomnia created by bodily imbalances. They need to be addressed through the exercising of the will to bring ones life under control.
If television commercials can be taken as an indicator, it would seem that insomnia and sleeplessness have become an epidemic. Remedies are advertised relentlessly for this very common problem. For the most part what is being offered as a solution is various forms of nervous system suppressors. Many of these are well known and have been prescribed for decades. Most of these have a common side effect – dependency and eventual ineffectiveness.
It is estimated that over 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders in general and most use an over the counter pharmaceutical product to help themselves. But, it should be remembered that being rendered unconscious is not the same as actually being asleep. Many products when taken will “knock you out” but the question is, does this equate to actually being asleep and do they provide the same rest as normal natural sleep provides.
Many people who have been operated on have been anesthetized which is a sort of numbing of the body that definitely appears to have the properties of sleep. However, upon awakening these people feel anything but rested. Many who take products for sleep feel the same way.
If someone is not sleeping it would seem that their nervous system due to its not being rested becomes debilitated and consequently weakened. It would seem that if the nervous system is already weakened from fatigue that it may benefit from fortification to reestablish its proper tension rather than being further suppressed through nervous system suppressors.
Traditional Herbal Theory uses a very different paradigm to approach the problem sleep, sleeplessness and insomnia. From the Traditional Herbal perspective; insomnia has two main forms:
1) not being able to fall asleep and
2) awakening; once after having already fallen asleep and then not being able to get back to sleep.
When someone is not sleeping there are only a few reasons why this might occur. Apart from apparent daily worries, which will be addressed later, according to Traditional Herbal Theory the main organ that controls sleep is the Liver. Many will laugh at this notion wondering, “what does the liver got to do with sleep?” This may be too simple for some to accept because they have become accustomed to more complex and inconclusive explanations involving genetics, DNA, or some other mysterious hormone that is still currently being studied.
Liver Function As Sleep Inhibitor?
The Liver as it is well known is the main filter of the body and controls the economy of blood in circulation. In other words, it cleans the blood of its solid wastes produced by the body and from eating. It draws the bodies blood into itself for cleaning when the body is inactive, as is normally the case when asleep and, then releases it back to the body in larger amounts when the body is more active. This latter activity is responsible for why some people, even relatively young people and especially women, feel hot and cold without apparent reason. But, it is during the night, when the body is the least active, that the Liver is at its most active that it can produce sleeplessness. Why? Because if the Liver is unencumbered it will do its tasks effortlessly but, if it is encumbered it has to become over-active in order to do its work. This over activity awakens people after they have already fallen asleep; usually between 12am to 3am. This over activity is like trying to sleep in the midst of commotion. Only the commotion is not outside of the body of course, it is within the body – taking place in the Liver.
This being the case, rather than a natural sleeping or nerve remedy, a good natural liver remedy will usually be more helpful for some people. Having a clean liver usually prevents this type of sleeplessness from happening. See Liver Cleanse
The second main cause of sleeplessness prevents a person from initially falling asleep and is described as a situation where the “brain will not shut itself off,” or having a “restless mind.” It seems that the days events play themselves back over and over again. In spite of being incredibly tired this hyper mental activity seems never ending. This is totally separate from the effects of a possible stimulant like coffee.
This second reason also has very simple causes that directly effect the nerves and their normal strength and tension. Stress is a common part of everyday life in today’s world. Normal activity does not produce stress. The heavy emotional burdens that are part of today’s life produce the stress and the stress affects the body and our finer being and it’s senses.
Stress is a state of mind that can produce “emotional overwork.” Or, even the other way around, emotional overwork can provoke stress. While in this state a person consumes their energies faster than they can replenish them, depleting their body and especially their nervous system. In simple terms stress is a state of fear. Without fear there can be no stress.
The effect of this depletion is a loss of energy, which the entire body and all of its organs need in order to properly function. The organ’s ability to produce what the body needs to sustain its finer parts diminish, depleting the finer functions like thinking, and the ability to relax first. This results in the nerves and their ability to keep the body’s blood clean to be diminished to the extent that toxins remain in circulation in the blood stream which has a narcoticising effect.
The body’s own toxicity is also dehydrating (from Liver functions) so water and good quality (red grape) fruit juices are helpful. The net result is that the nerves are underfed of their specific food and as a result loose their proper tension. They become less capable of carrying life energies and become easily overloaded. Everything, even little things becomes an “overwhelming” situation. At night the nerves are unable to relax and sleep is hard to come by.
The main organ in charge of harvesting and converting the energy for the body is the Stomach with its immediate satellites, the Spleen and Pancreas. If this group of organs are in good health falling asleep would be effortless for most people. If it is simply been a trying day simple Valerian herb can work just fine. But if the Spleen has become overworked a more specific remedy may be indicated. The Spleen is of special interest as it is the starting point of blood production and the harvesting of food for the nerves. Should the onset of sleeplessness be due to stress and the subsequent depletion of the spleen, a good spleen formula might be helpful.
Related to the concept of general depletion is also the function of the Kidneys. If there is prolonged stress it is also possible for the Kidneys and/or the adrenals to become depleted resulting in insomnia. One of the best remedies sleeplessness cause by these organs is the tincture of wild oats (The Gaia Brand seems to work best). This is a kidney remedy that can also be extremely effective for sleeplessness. If it is going to work, it will generally work right away with the very first dose.
It should be noted that in general natural nerve and sleep remedies do not “knock you out.” They generally relax without producing inebriation. Often, they also produce an invigoration as they relax; which may seem counter-intuitive at first. But, if one accepts that insomnia is due to a depletion rather than a direct over stimulation the calming yet energizing effect makes sense and permits normal sleep.
Indigestion Is A Common Sleep Inhibitor
Although it may seem obvious; indigestion is another obvious reason why many people do not fall asleep at night. A heavy meal before going to bed or eating too late in the evening is for many people the cause of that night’s insomnia. Clearly a digestive aid would serve their purpose better than a nerve strengthener or a sleeping aid.
It should also be remembered that a regular and habitual sleeping and awakening routine gets the body into a state that is more receptive for sleep and awakening at a regular hour. A good routine is generally good for the body.
Another habit that is promoted by spas is the notion of early to bed, early to rise. Every hour of sleep that is had before midnight is like having two hours after midnight. And, oversleeping is worse for the body than what is considered to be under-sleeping. Sleeping during the day should be discouraged if one wishes to sleep better at night. Sleeping during the day is actually not very beneficial unless someone is in need of convalescence.
Many people who live a very long and healthy life often do not sleep more than 5 – 7 hours a night. The rationale being that the circulation of blood through the body and its organs is impeded when the body is laying horizontal due to the bodies own weight pressing onto its organs. This is an old theory that is worthy of further investigation!
Also See the Health Topics listed below for applications of Digestorum
- Candida/Yeast Infections
- Losing Weight Effectively
- Theory of Liver and Gallbladder Cleansing
- The Liver Cleanse and Gallstones.
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