It’s 5:00 a.m., and the first traces of dawn have begun to appear in the night-time sky. You’ve been awake since 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., if you have been able to sleep at all – and you are beginning to feel hopeless. How will you function at work tomorrow? (err, make that today…) How will you make it through another long day after yet another night without sleep?
This is the curse of insomnia, the most common sleep disorder in North America and Europe. A whopping one-third of the population cannot sleep well enough to function well during the day. But the effects don’t end there. People with insomnia are four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Although this article focuses on insomnia, the strong link between depression and insomnia means, fortunately, that lifestyle interventions to alleviate insomnia will likely also ease depression. Simple life activities can make a big difference: exercising – even if it is just a walk outside; eating nourishing foods; keeping a regular schedule; getting sunlight during the day; avoiding computers and TVs in the evening, especially before bed; and for those who are especially sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, turning off the WiFi and removing electronic devices like cell phones from the bedroom.
There are also many natural remedies which can be extremely effective in combating insomnia and depression, and they come with almost no risk of side effects. Below, I will list some of the homeopathic remedies which are useful for acute sleeping disorders. However, I do want to note that people with chronic depression and insomnia have to be assessed individually to find a proper remedy.
Arnica, a well-known remedy for bumps and bruises, is also brilliant for acute insomnia after overwork or jet lag. It can also help when the bed feels too hard and uncomfortable.
Chamomilla soothes restlessness. Not surprisingly, it is an antidote for overuse of coffee. It will help an irritable baby who refuses to sleep, whether the agitation is from teething, anger, or colic. It will also help with frightening dreams, or sleeplessness and restlessness during the first part of the night. Chamomilla will also help a person who is moaning or has eyes half open when asleep. Finally, it is soothing for the person who exhibits irritability, peevishness, and restlessness.
Coffea, the homeopathic remedy made from the coffee bean, is very useful in cases of sleeplessness when the mind is overactive, wide awake and working – overexcited, as if from drinking too much coffee. The inability to relax is likely due to overexcitement caused by good news or ideas (not disappointment). It is also characterized by vivid dreams.
Ignatia can help with sleeplessness caused by shock, emotional stress, or grief, where the person has become overwrought and moody, with frequent yawning or sighing. Tell-tale symptoms also include the sensation of a lump in the throat and limbs jerking when falling asleep.
Nux vomica is excellent for the person who is irritable and sleepless from stopping sedatives, or from too much mental stress, alcohol or food – especially spicy foods or foods at night time. Sensitivity to noise is also marked. The sleeplessness typically occurs after waking up very early in the morning. The person cannot get back to sleep until just before the alarm goes off, and then gets up irritable and angry from lack of sleep.
Valeriana is beneficial for people experiencing sleeplessness with nightly itching and muscular spasms. Valeriana is also especially beneficial for insomnia during pregnancy and menopause.
Therapeutic measures and lifestyle changes are equally important when it comes to treating insomnia and depression. So, if you decide to take remedies, it’s very important to use them in conjunction with lifestyle measures.
Veronika Zhmurko MD (UA, PhD Clinical Immunology) Classical Homeopath
For more information on how to achieve greater health, check out other articles on Veronika’s blog. To seek care, contact Veronika at homeopathica.ca.