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The term insomnia literally denotes a complete lack of sleep. It is, however, used to indicate a relative inability to sleep that consists of difficulty in falling asleep, difficulty in remaining asleep, early final awakening, or combinations of these complaints. Insomnia is generally characterized by an inability to carry out routine activities effectively as a result of insufficient rest rising out of a disturbed sleep pattern. This disease has assumed alarming proportions in the present times, especially among the upper classes in the urban set-up.

There are three types of insomnia – transient insomnia, acute insomnia and chronic insomnia. Transient insomnia normally lasts for less than a week. In the case of acute insomnia, an individual faces the problem of a disrupted sleep pattern for over a week, but less than a month. When poor sleep patterns prevail for over a month, the condition is termed as chronic insomnia.

Lack of Sleep, Emotional Instability

Individuals with insomnia find it extremely difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The single symptom that most frequently marks the onset of insomnia is difficulty in falling asleep. There may be changes in the duration and quality of sleep or persistent changes in sleep patterns. Some have little trouble falling asleep, but staying asleep is extremely hard. They normally end up tossing and turning in bed, waiting for the first light of dawn. Some are also known to fall asleep when it is time to wake up. Insufficient rest is bound to take a toll on any individual. The symptoms of insomnia continue into the day with people experiencing lapses of memory, lack of concentration and an inability to focus on work during the day. Hampered motor coordination, confusion and mental as well as muscular fatigue throughout the day are also characteristic signs of insomnia. Other symptoms of insomnia include emotional instability, irritability and impaired socializing skills. When the condition persists for a long time, individuals suffering from insomnia are also known to experience double vision as well as have hallucinations.

In most cases, an individual with insomnia problems faces a lot of distress for an extended period of time as a result of the disorder.

Insomnia Symptoms, Causes, Remedy and Diet

Tension, Anxiety, Stress

Stress and insomnia go hand in hand with stress being the number one cause for insomnia. The most common cause of sleeplessness is mental tension brought about by anxiety, worries, overwork as well as overexcitement. A change in work hours or time of sleep as well as an alteration in the sleep environment is also known to bring on a certain amount of anxiety that results in insomnia. Jet lag, too much of noise and an uncomfortable sleep environment can cause transient insomnia. The stress that revolves around the preparation for an important examination or office presentation could also lead to sleepless nights.

Suppressed Resentment, Anger, Bitterness

Suppressed feelings of resentment, anger and bitterness may also cause insomnia. Pent up feelings tend to cause a lot of emotional stress that leads to an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. These feelings could arise from difficult situations such as separation anxiety, divorce, the loss of a loved one or the loss of a steady job or home. A change in hormonal levels, especially during pregnancy, could also trigger insomnia.

Constipation, Overeating, Excessive Tea-Coffee-Smoking

Conditions such as dyspepsia, diarrhea and constipation cause a considerable amount of discomfort that hamper one’s ability to sleep soundly. Overeating at night, especially just before going to bed as well as going to bed hungry can also lead to sleep deprivation. But such causes for insomnia usually last for just a day or so and are nothing to worry about. The excessive intake of tea or coffee also alters one’s ability to fall asleep as the caffeine content promotes alertness. Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption could also lead to insomnia over a period of time. Sudden withdrawal from addictive habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and drug usage could also be responsible for insomnia. Often, worrying about falling asleep is enough to keep one awake. Similarly, having to wake up early could also result in an inability to fall asleep at all. Insomnia could also be a side effect of certain medication or could be linked to trauma or surgery.

Insomnia home remedies and natural cures, Questions and answers

Insomnia Treatment using Thiamine

Of the various food elements, thiamine or vitamin B is of special significance in the treatment of insomnia. It is vital for strong, healthy nerves. A body starved of thiamine over a long period will be unable to relax and fall asleep naturally. Valuable sources of this vitamin are wholegrain cereals, pulses, and nuts.

Insomnia Treatment using Lettuce

Lettuce is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia as it contains a sleep-inducing substance, called 'lectucarium'. The juice of this plant has been likened in effect to the sedative action of opium without the accompanying excitement. Lettuce seeds taken in a decoction are also useful in insomnia. One tablespoon of seeds should be boiled in half a litre of water, till it is reduced by one-third.

Insomnia Treatment using Milk

Milk is very valuable in insomnia. A glass of milk, sweetened with honey, should be taken every night before going to bed in treating this condition. It acts as a tonic and a tranquilliser. Massaging the milk over the soles of the feet has also been found effective.

Insomnia Treatment using Curd

Curd is also useful in insomnia. The patient should take plenty of curd and massage it on the head. This will induce sleep.

Insomnia Treatment using Bottle Gourd

The mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil in 50:50 ratio acts as an effective medicine for insomnia. It should be massaged over the scalp every night. The cooked leaves of bottle gourd taken as a vegetable are also beneficial in the treatment of this disease.

Insomnia Treatment using Aniseed

A tea made from aniseed is valuable in sleeplessness. This tea is prepared by boiling about 375 ml of water in a vessel and adding a teaspoon of aniseed. The water should be covered with a lid and allowed to simmer for fifteen minutes. It should then be strained and drunk hot or warm. The tea may be sweetened with honey, and hot milk may also be added to it. This tea should be taken after meals or before going to bed.

Insomnia Treatment using Honey

Honey is beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. It has a hypnotic action and induces a sound sleep. It should be taken with water, before going to bed, in doses of two teaspoons in a large cup of water. Babies generally fall asleep after taking honey.

Insomnia Treatment using Rauwolfia

The herb rauwolfia is a valuable medicine for insomnia because of its indisputable efficacy as a sedative. The hypnotic action of the drug appears to have been known since ancient times. The very first dose of rauwolfia will enable a patient with a phlegmatic and gouty nature to go to sleep. The powder of the root in a quantity of 0.25 gm to 0.5 gm should be mixed with some scented substance like cardamom and given to the patient The patient will have a sound sleep during the entire night. If the disease is chronic, the patient should take O.25 gm twice a day, in the morning as well as at night before retiring.

Insomnia Home Remedies

There are a number of home remedies for insomnia. Following a regular daily schedule, with definite sleep hours, is of great importance when dealing with insomnia. Once the body gets accustomed to a set routine, chances of insomnia fall tremendously. Home remedies for sleeplessness also include sharing thoughts and feelings with close family members or friends as this prevents the risk of pent up negative energy. A hot bath before going to bed following a brisk walk after dinner is also believed to be a good insomnia home remedy. A hot shower helps in relaxing the body while the walk not only acts as a good form of exercise but also aids digestion. The walk also tires the body to a certain extent, thus promoting the need for rest. However, one should keep in mind that knowing the cause of the disorder is very important for the treatment of insomnia.

Insomnia : Home Remedies suggested by users

Low Salt Diet

The patient should take a low-salt diet as salt is said to interfere with a restful sleep. A balanced diet with simple modifications in the eating pattern will go a long way in the treatment of insomnia.

Avoid White Flour Products, Sugar Products, Tea etc.

Such a diet should exclude white flour products, sugar and its products, tea, coffee, chocolate, cola drinks, alcohol, fatty foods, fried foods, and foods containing additives. Another natural insomnia cure is restricting the intake of caffeine, in any form. For those who are addictive to tea or coffee, consumption of these beverages must be restricted and one must avoid the intake of these beverages closer to bedtime. Overeating should be avoided completely. Green leafy vegetables are believed to be very beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. Melons and mulberries calm the mind and improve sleep patterns. A diet rich in carbohydrates is known to boost serotonin levels, a factor responsible for promoting good sleep.

Regular Active Exercise

Regular active exercise during the day and mild exercise before retiring at night enhances the quantity and the quality of sleep. Simple forms of exercise such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and opting to walk short distances rather than take a car could help to maintain a fit and flexible body without being time consuming. Yoga helps in a majority of cases. It provides physical and mental relaxation from one’s disturbing problems.

Meditiate, Eliminate Stress, Hobbies

The patient should make an all-out effort to eliminate as many stress factors as possible for the treatment of insomnia. The steps in this direction should include regular practice of any relaxation method or meditation technique. Deep breathing exercises are known to be a very effective method of insomnia anxiety treatment and can be done at any time of the day, without proving to be embarrassing. One must follow the technique of deep breathing every time he or she feels anxiety or stress building up. This will definitely help in preventing high stress levels at the end of the day. Cultivating the art of doing things slowly, particularly activities like eating, walking and talking help one to spend time enjoying the activity rather than it being just a routine action that needs to be completed. Limiting the working day to nine or ten hours and the working week to five and a half days and avoiding meeting unrealistic targets goes a long way in relieving stress and frustration as one tends to be more relaxed in such cases. Cultivating a creative hobby and spending some time daily on this daily can also reduce the risk of insomnia. One could opt for simple hobbies such as reading or gardening. Maintaining a diary or personal journal is also a good option as it also helps in releasing bottled up feelings. A break from the monotony of daily hectic life tends to hamper sleep patterns. A short trip taken with family also helps in relieving stress.