Insomnia is a symptom, not a disease. It generally refers to someone who is unsatisfied with the nature of their sleep. Around one in three people regularly have trouble falling asleep, but only around 5% need treatment. The average night's sleep for an adult is around seven or eight hours (Newcastle Sleep Disorders Centre).
- Difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia)
- Repeated awakenings with difficulty returning to sleep (sleep maintenance insomnia)
- Early morning awakenings (sleep offset insomnia)
- A sense of not having enough sleep, often with persistent daytime sleepiness despite sleep of adequate duration (non restorative sleep)
Since humans generally require one hour of sleep for every two hours awake, early symptoms of sleep deprivation are common amongst all of us. These range from irritability and the inability to concentrate to the loss of sense of humour, major mood swings and a reduced immunity to disease and viral infections. Beyond that a whole list of cognitive functioning reductions start to occur, including loss of memory, inability to do complex things, reduction in logic, paranoia, hallucination. Scientists know that an animal such as a hamster or a mouse will die after being kept awake for two or three days. In 1965, an American student stayed awake for a record of a little more than 11 days as part of a University study. After a few good nights sleep he was back to normal yet by the end of the study he was delirious and could barely talk. (Article "Sleep Deprivation: 'It can literally drive you crazy'", The Globe and Mail)
Supplements: Passionflower, Lavender, Hops, Valerian and Magnesium.
Complementary Healthcare Council
For more information, take a look through "Help Yourself: an A-Z of natural cures for common complaints" by Mim Beim and Jan Castorina. It's published by Doubleday and is available through all good bookstores.