Insomnia: symptoms, causes, all the remedies

Insomnia: symptoms, causes, all the remedies

The different forms of sleep disorders can cause, if prolonged over time, even very serious discomfort. Let’s see specifically how the insomnia disorder is distinguished and how to intervene with specific remedies.


The hours pass and the minutes weigh. The night out never stops remembering how long it is. Insomnia is a common disorder consisting of the inability to fall asleep or the disruption of normal sleep patterns .

Stress often causes it , especially psychosocial ones (such as conflicting relationships in the workplace), depression , abuse of exciting substances, physical pain, food allergies , environmental disturbances, habitual snoring associated with the presence of sleep apnea and jet lag.

  • What is insomnia
  • Symptoms of insomnia
  • Consequences of insomnia
  • Causes of insomnia
  • Diagnosis
  • Natural cures and remedies for insomnia

What is insomnia

By insomnia we mean the difficulty in falling asleep or sleeping continuously and qualitatively satisfactorily throughout the night. In any case it is a subjective disorder , because it is linked to the needs of the individual for rest both from a qualitative and quantitative aspect. 

Insomnia sometimes triggers vicious anxious circuits such as conditioned insomnia, a form of chronic nervous insomnia characterized by the pervasive fear of not being able to sleep which results in actual real insomnia and night anxiety caused first by a disturbing event, then by ‘ creep in the fear of spending another sleepless night.
It is a reflex emotional activation, which causes the subject to fall asleep more easily when he does not force himself to do so, for example when he is in front of the television.

Symptoms of insomnia

Symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep or constant awakening during the night are to be assessed on the basis of frequency. In fact, one of the most common ways to classify insomnia is by referring to the duration of symptoms:

  • Temporary one that lasts less than a month;
  • short-term if it lasts for 1-6 months;
  • chronic if it lasts longer than six months. 

Depending on when you wake up, we then talk about initial , transient or terminal insomnia .

Consequences of insomnia

If insomnia has an extremely severe impact on the quality of life, it is necessary to ask your doctor for help. In fact, insomnia is not just a sleep disorder in itself but has repercussions during wakefulness , such as drowsiness , difficulty concentrating, reactive slowdowns , possible conditions of anxiety and depression . 
There are pathologies related to insomnia such as sleep apnea , headaches ,  food intolerances .

Causes of insomnia

The causes of insomnia can be of different nature. The most frequent are:

  • Concerns;
  • stress;
  • diseases and physical pain;
  • menopause ;
  • hyperactivity of the thyroid gland;
  • environmental factors; 
  • shift work;
  • taking certain medications.


The diagnosis of insomnia involves collecting the symptoms reported directly by the patient. Only in a second phase, to determine whether it is primary insomnia or a disorder secondary to another disease, can diagnostic tests such as EEG or polysomnography , a specific test for brain function and aimed at investigating cardiovascular parameters, be used. and respirators. 

Insomnia occurs in many different ways , which is why, clinically, it is classified taking into account at least three parameters: duration, causes and type.

Natural cures and remedies for insomnia

Some strategies to combat insomnia starting from nutrition and some corrections on lifestyles, herbal remedies and exercises to relax, can be useful tools to rebalance the sleep-wake rhythms.

Food and some delicious recipes

In insomnia it is useful to treat nutrition by opting for a sedative diet for the central nervous system. Relaxing foods accompanied at dinner by a carbohydrate are preferred: zucchini  (also marinated), green beans , pesto, boiled potatoes and seasoned with oil, salt and parsley , fruit salad accompanied with pine nuts or almonds to facilitate sleep. Among the nutritional associations useful in insomnia:

  • Risotto with lettuce : fry the lettuce cut into strips with oil and garlic, add water and when it starts boiling again 100g of rice. The preparation is ready after twenty minutes;
  • Caramelized apple : cut an apple with its peel into slices in a pan and add a cup of red wine, a spoonful of sugar, 2 cloves, 2 cm of cinnamon stick and the peel of a quarter of a lemon. It is cooked over high heat until it caramelizes).
  • Mulled wine: a cup of red wine of excellent quality, add a peel of a quarter of a lemon, 3 cloves, ¼ stick of cinnamon, a tablespoon of sugar and put everything to boil. When boiling begins, the wine is set on fire, preserving the bactericidal and antibiotic power of the wine associated with the antimicrobial and antiviral actions of the other components. Here to learn more about mulled wine .
  • Potatoes and leeks : the leeks are sliced  and cooked in a pan with garlic and extra virgin olive oil. After 2/3 minutes, add the potatoes and brown them briefly, cover with water and cook for twenty minutes.

You can learn more about the correct diet against insomnia

Herbal remedies for insomnia

Some of the medicinal plants used for insomnia help to relax the nervous, muscular and circulatory systems, gently conciliating sleep; others have a hypno-inducing action, promote falling asleep and keep sleep prolonged, improving its quality. 

Among the relaxing plants: 

  • Lemon balm : indicated for nervous tension affecting the muscular system. The leaves of lemon balm , rich in essential oil, are calming for anxiety and relaxing the muscles. Its use is therefore particularly indicated in the presence of a general picture of irritability, insomnia caused by excessive fatigue, nervousness, premenstrual syndrome, spasms and muscle tension. 
  • Passionflower : has a sedative and anxiolytic action, stimulates sleep, without awakening at night, without producing a sense of morning numbness, and narcotic or addictive effects. Passionflower is indicated  in case of stress, anxiety and a sense of anguish; in the forms of hysterical, phobic, obsessive and post-traumatic neurosis; 
  • Hawthorn and Linden act as natural spasmolytics, sedatives and anxiolytics . The hypotensive action of hawthorn  and lime  on the cardiovascular system is useful in case of insomnia, especially in very nervous patients, it controls their emotions, tachycardia, palpitations, agitation, anguish.  

Sleep inducing plants are: 

  • Valerian : the roots have sedative, relaxing and hypno-inducing properties, reducing the time needed to fall asleep and improving the quality of sleep. Valerian is indicated in cases of insomnia and anxiety. 
  • Escolzia : its aerial parts (stem, flower) decrease the period of falling asleep and produce the maintenance of a good quality of sleep, throughout the night, avoiding sudden awakenings. The use of escolzia is therefore indicated in case of anxiety , stress , sleep disturbances (nocturnal awakenings), psychosomatic disorders, irritability, mood bending, psychic pain, nervousness.
  • Hops : it is commonly used for its calming effect on the nervous system and for its sedative action it is used to improve sleep. Dried hop flowers  can be sewn into a pillow to help counteract insomnia.  

Among the gemmoderivati ​​we find:

  • Tilia Tomentosa : considered the natural tranquilizer par excellence. For this reason, lime is successfully used in neurovegetative dystonias and anxiety syndromes , hyper-emotionality, insomnia in adults and children, because it performs an anxiolytic, antispasmodic and sedative action, capable of improving the quality of sleep, especially when insomnia is caused by stress, nervousness or palpitations. 

You can learn more about how to cure insomnia with herbal medicine

Bach flowers for insomnia

Bach flower remedies act on mental and physical relaxation when thoughts and worries hinder sleep; others on anxiety and nervous tension accumulated during the day. Let’s now see what Bach flowers are associated with the different forms of insomnia: 

  • Hornbeam : is the remedy for people suffering from mental overload insomnia , whose sleep is not restorative. The Hornbeam remedy is indicated for people who feel exhausted , tired and unmotivated; who doubt their ability to succeed d accuse the “Monday morning syndrome” every day (difficulty in starting the day), due to routine, a repetitive and habitual life; 
  • White chestnut : it is indicated for people who suffer from insomnia, because they mull over the same thoughts without being able to fall asleep. If they wake up they don’t fall asleep anymore, they can’t relax because the mind goes back to a specific event. White chestnut helps those plagued by mental loops; 
  • Impatiens : it is the remedy for people who suffer from insomnia, because they are unable to relax . The Impatients remedy is given to those experiencing acceleration, who have a problem with time and live in anticipation anxiety. This leads to the inability to relax and adjust to the harmonic rhythm of one’s being; 
  • Walnut : it is indicated to adapt the organism to seasonal and climatic changes , protecting from the pressure that the world exerts on us. Divorce, separation, move, change of job etc. these are all situations that can be a source of intense emotional stress and cause insomnia. Walnut  is supportive in situations of transition or great change; 
  • Agrimony : the remedy for those who wake up in the middle of the night in the grip of anxiety , caused by an inner torment that is hidden from others. This floral remedy acts on the anxious state that comes to prevent sleep or interrupt it during the night. The Agrimony remedy helps to manage problems without hiding them, giving serenity and optimism in facing them; 
  • Red Chestnut: it is indicated to treat insomnia that derives from excessive apprehension in those who let themselves be overwhelmed by bad thoughts, from the fear that something terrible may happen to their loved ones. The Red Chestnut remedy helps to relax and keep anxiety under control by promoting the processing of positive thoughts.   

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Insomnia

In traditional Chinese medicine , each organ of the body has a corresponding psychic content , which means that we also deposit mental energies inside the organism. Insomnia often arises from energy imbalances, intoxications and poor functioning of organs that damage mental energy: for example, an intoxicated liver affects the ease of falling asleep. In addition to the Liver meridians , it is useful to treat those of the Heart and Spleen .

Acupuncture mobilizes the qi, the energy of the Liver, and calms the shen, through the work on these points:

  • SHEN MEN (on the transverse crease of the wrist), which tones and regulates the cardial qi;
  • XING JIAN (between the big toe and the second toe), which tones and regulates the Liver, and cools the Blood; 
  • FENG LONG (between the lower edge of the patella and the vertex of the external malleolus), which dissolves moisture, mobilizes the qi of the Spleen and Stomach, calms the shen and promotes the descent of yang. 
  • TAI XI (between the apex of the internal malleolus and the Achilles tendon) tones and regulates the renal qi and purifies the heat. 
  • TAI CHONG (on the back of the foot, in the depression between the first and second metatarsals), which regulates and cools the blood. 

Acupressure , which is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, can also be a good remedy for insomnia.

Aromatherapy for insomnia

The essential oils used in the treatment of insomnia, in addition to facilitating sleep and keeping it prolonged, improve its quality, carrying out a general harmonizing action. They are used both for environmental diffusion (1 drop per square meter of the bedroom), through relaxing baths (10 drops in the bathtub) or applied through aromatherapy massages (5-7 drops in a vegetable oil).  

  • Lavender essential oil : promotes sleep and is very useful in overexcited children, who fall asleep with difficulty. Lavender essential oil balances the central nervous system, because it is both a tonic and a sedative at the same time; calms anxiety, agitation, nervousness; performs an effective relaxing action in case of emotional disturbances, insomnia, hypertension, tachycardia, stress. 
  • Bergamot essential oil : has a calming action on the nervous system, counteracting states of anxiety. Bergamot is an effective remedy in case of insomnia, because it relaxes, allowing sleep  .
  • Essential oil of basil : indicated in case of mental fatigue, intellectual overmenage; basil is  used to counteract anxiety, insomnia, motion sickness, dizziness, and stress.

Exercises in case of insomnia

It is very important not to alter the sleep-wake rhythm if you play competitive sports. Calculate the hours of sleep you need, try to go to bed every night and get up at the same time every morning . If you go to sleep very late one night, avoid prolonged sleep throughout the morning, as this could lead to you being late again the next day. If you wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall asleep again, stay in bed without torment.

Yes to relaxing activities before going to bed ( gentle exercise , a book, a good movie, music, pampering). During the day, practice your favorite physical activity regularly and avoid overeating at dinner. 

Yoga is a panacea for insomnia caused by stress or difficult work situations or concerns of various kinds; also excellent in cases of conditioned insomnia, characterized by the pervasive fear of not being able to sleep. Specific positions, if practiced consistently, guarantee long-term relaxation.

Richard Miller, a psychologist and yoga teacher, has created a system that combines the millennial tradition of yoga techniques with recent sleep studies. It is called IRest , short for Integrative Restoration, Nidra yoga practice combined with psychological therapy , a relaxing and therapeutic guided meditation.

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