Insomnia – Homeopathy The Natural Solution
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Trouble sleeping? You are not alone. 75% of women report sleep problems, according to The Great British Sleep Survey. Lack of sleep affects our health, relationships, and productivity. And people who suffer from sleep deprivation are twice as likely to suffer from depression. In fact, the potentially fatal consequences of sleep deprivation were highlighted recently by Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post. She woke in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor. She had hit her head while passing out from exhaustion caused by a lack of sleep.
Homeopathy is a natural, non-toxic alternative for treating insomnia, which research has shown to be effective. So how does a homeopath help an insomniac? The first thing, before even thinking about homeopathic remedies, is to sort out the basics, by following a simple set of do’s and don’ts.
Eat right, sleep tight
- Do eliminate all adrenal-stimulating foods – caffeine, sugary food, oranges, hard cheese – as many insomnia problems originate in a blood sugar imbalance. If eliminating caffeine is too big an ask, then don’t drink it after 1 pm.
- Do eat protein at your evening meal. especially if you are someone who falls asleep OK, but wakes during the night (especially if it’s between 3 and 4 am), as again, a blood sugar imbalance may be at work, but…
- Don’t eat a heavy evening meal too late. The ideal is three hours between eating and sleeping
- Don’t ever skip breakfast
- Do eat protein at breakfast and avoid the typical cereal, toast, croissant-style breakfast.
Screen off, wind down
- Don’t look at brightly-lit screens too late, because the light stimulates the release of the wake-up hormone, cortisol
- Do have a good amount of wind-down time before bed. I recommend an hour, free of TV, work or stress of any kind, and which should include some kind of routine. For me, a bath and a book work well, as long as the book’s not too exciting. If it is, then my husband’s copy of the New Scientist is guaranteed to have my eyes drooping in a few minutes. If reading is too stimulating for you, then you may find journaling a helpful way to get persistent thoughts or worries off your mind.
Treating the underlying cause
Once the basics are dealt with, then the homeopathic approach to insomnia is somewhat different from the mainstream approach. There are 347 homeopathic remedies for insomnia. To narrow it down, the first thing I look for is an underlying cause, which may be physical, mental or emotional. The physical causes are the easiest to spot e.g. hot flushes, neck pain, asthma, palpitations. Not always so obvious though, are the mental and emotional causes, e.g. racing thoughts, nightmares, or anxiety, worry, shock, grief. Somebody may have had a shock, or a loss, months or years earlier and may not associate the insomnia with that event.
I then narrow the remedy choice further by asking about the exact nature of the insomnia e.g. does the patient have trouble falling asleep or do they wake in the night and fail to get back to sleep. If the latter, then what time do they wake, and what keeps them awake. Below are some examples of underlying mental and emotional causes and the indicated remedies.
Grief, upset, indecision, inner conflict or frustration leading to insomnia can be helped by Ignatia. You rehearse what you should have said or done that day and wake from the slightest noise, usually after midnight.
Anger, fear or humiliation, perhaps after a dispute, causing sleeplessness, indicates the remedyStaphysagria. You feel sleepy all day, but are sleepless by night and your body may ache all over. You may tend to wake frequently during the night and in the morning often come to with a headache.
Worry about responsibilities, money keeping you up, or sleepless from overwork and exhaustion? Then you may need Calcarea Carbonica, especially if you tend to wake before 2 am, often get cold, especially your feet, or wake from calf cramps.
Overwork, mental strain, caffeine: if you are quite driven, impatient and irritable, don’t get to sleep easily in spite of feeling tired, wake between 3 – 4 a. m. and then cannot sleep for thinking about work, then you may need Nux vomica. You may also find that though you do eventually get back to sleep, it’s not long before your alarm and you wake feeling tense and exhausted.
Nursing the sick or jet lag. You need Cocculus indicus if you have been nursing someone, perhaps repeatedly sitting up through the night, or if you have just travelled long-distance and your sleep is being disturbed by the time difference. You may feel spaced out, dazed and confused during the day, and when it comes to bed, you spend a long time falling asleep, and your sleep is restless and un-refreshing, often with anxious dreams or nightmares.
We live in a 24/7, caffeine-fuelled culture, where recently a bank intern died from lack of sleep. This culture encourages us, subtly, to under-estimate the importance of sleep. But it is the most basic of needs. Without it, we don’t function properly on any level, and long-term deprivation increases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke. With it though, we have the foundation for exploring our potential. So if you have trouble sleeping, homeopathy is just one approach – a natural one – which you might want to explore.
I will be writing in future posts about the role homeopathy can play in helping with grief and heartbreak, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Colten, H. R., Altevogt, B. M., eds. Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Sleep disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press.
The Great British Sleep Survey
Journal of Occupational Health – Persistent Insomnia is a Predictor of Hypertension in Japanese Male Workers
Homeopathy – Chronic primary insomnia: efficacy of homeopathic simillimum.
Science Direct – The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation
The Telegraph – Why we all need more sleep
Murphy, R., 2005. Homeopathic Clinical Repertory. 3rd ed. Virginia. Lotus Health Institute.
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