Have you ever been unable to get to sleep at night? Most of us have. For some people, it’s just a matter of a sleepless night here and there. For others, it could be insomnia. Insomnia is more than just not getting sleep. Even when those with insomnia do get to bed, they may not sleep as long or as restfully, and will often have trouble waking up in the morning. Medication exists to help with sleeplessness, but is medication the best way to solve the problem? Instead, there may be a better way to get to bed at night.
Insomnia is a problem that affects about 30% of the adult population in America. Many of them also have trouble when they wake as a result, and in general, about half the population does not get enough sleep. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see why there are so many pharmaceutical sleep aids- there’s such a great demand for them. Unfortunately, many of these sleep aids have side effects, which makes the need for a safe, natural remedy more important. In order to do that, however, it is important to understand insomnia and its effects in the first place.
What is Insomnia/Sleep Deprivation
As mentioned earlier, insomnia covers a lot of situations that describe the lack of a full, restful sleep, whether it’s a matter of getting to sleep in the first place or sleeping deeply enough. Generally speaking, insomnia tends to come from anxiety and/or depression, but can also appear as a result of other issues, such as high blood pressure. Though they are frequently discussed together, insomnia and sleep deprivation are not the same thing. The key difference between insomnia in sleep deprivation is that sleep deprivation generally defines a lack of sleep caused by outside interference: noise, light, being jostled.
Though they are different, ultimately insomnia and sleep deprivation are similar in the havoc they can wreak on your life in the form of lost sleep. As you might expect, fatigue, particularly during the daytime, is quite common. However, other symptoms are present as well; moodiness and irritability certainly occur, as does a reduction in cognitive ability- it can harder to concentrate or remember things. Physical side effects include headaches and nausea. Perhaps worst of all, sleep loss can lead to anxiety, which may end up contributing to insomnia, and therefore starting the vicious cycle of sleeplessness all over again.
Insomnia and sleep deprivation tend to hit middle-aged adults more often and more severely than other age groups, likely due to the increased level of responsibility in comparison to children, younger adults, and the elderly. The symptoms of sleep loss can be harmful, even fatal in some circumstances, particularly while driving or operating machinery. Because of these dangers, it’s important to seek treatment if you believe you are suffering from insomnia or sleep deprivation. Aside from lifestyle changes that might help, medication is a popular choice. However, it is not without side effects, some of which can be serious.
Aside from the possibility of addiction, sleeping pills can have a number of negative problems. These include bowel trouble, strange sensations or trembling, changes in appetite, and dry mouth. What’s worse, sometimes the sleeping pills cause the same symptoms that sleep loss inflicts in the first place, such as fatigue, headache, and cognitive difficulties. This could be due to the way sleeping pills operate- they cause a depression of the nervous system, which is a lot like… depression, a potential cause of insomnia. Given the side effects that come with sleeping pills, it makes sense to find an alternative treatment.
Nutmeg as Treatment
One potential alternative sleep aid is nutmeg. In fact, it has been used for a long time as a form of medicine to treat numerous conditions, including sleep troubles. Specifically, compounds in nutmeg, like myristicin, can help a person to relax. This is due to a combination of countering stressful signal hormones produced by the body and working as a natural sedative to relieve stress. Relieving stress can certainly help one to get to sleep. A little bit of nutmeg at night just might be the thing to help. Studies have indicated nutmeg’s potential as a sleep aid, among others.
If you’d like to try nutmeg as a sleep aid, don’t just eat it straight. Instead, make nutmeg water. For every glass of water, use one-fourth of a teaspoon of nutmeg (you’ll notice it doesn’t take much at all) and drink it an hour or so before you intend to sleep. Keep in mind, you’ll want to use it in moderation. While it is not hallucinogenic in low doses as some sources have suggested, it can prove toxic in high doses, and as such, care should be taken. Pregnant women and children should avoid nutmeg in any significant amount.
While there’s not much you can do about insomnia, sleep deprivation may be a little easier to combat because the interference comes from outside the body. First and foremost, it’s important to eliminate distractions, disturbances, and stressors from your environment- specifically from the bedroom. Be careful not to eat too closely to bedtime, and avoid electronic media as well; the light from electronics stimulates the ‘awake’ functions of the brain. Avoiding loud music (and loud people) can also help, as can relaxing scents like lavender or jasmine. Stretching before bed may also provide some benefit, helping the body to relax.
At the End of the DayRelated: 6 Tips to Help Get Better Sleep
Sleep loss, either from insomnia, or sleep deprivation, can be serious. They can dramatically reduce a person’s effectiveness, costing them relationships and even employment, put people at risk for injury, and so much more. However, a large number of sleeping pills offer hardly any benefit. In fact, some sleeping pills may actually cause symptoms as bad or worse than those brought on by a lack of sleep- to say nothing of the possibility of addiction. If you’re looking to get a good night’s rest, practice good sleep hygiene and incorporate natural sleep aids and sedatives like nutmeg into your regimen.