Insomnia is commonly defined as the habitual inability to initiate and maintain sleep, or the experience of nonrestorative sleep. Insomnia is a heterogeneous problem, taking many forms, including difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking at night, early morning awakening and the inability to fall back asleep.
Insomnia is extremely common. It affects up to 30% of men and 40% of women in the U.S; more than two thirds of insomniacs are older than 50. Direct and indirect costs are estimated to be as high as $92 billion, with over $2.7 billion spent on 43 million prescriptions for this condition annually.
Since the middle of the last century, the average night’s sleep in the U.S. has dropped to six and a half hours from more than eight.
The consequences of insomnia include daytime drowsiness, fatigue, increased risk of accidents, mood disturbances, employment and relationship problems, memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction. Half of all automobile accidents are related to sleep problems with associated tiredness. Insomnia also impairs the body’s ability to heal and recover from acute and chronic illness. Lack of sleep contributes to the progression of inflammation in chronic disease. It contributes to obesity and diminishes sex appeal.
A variety of medications have been used to treat insomnia, but they uniformly fail to reproduce actual sleep, or to provide a lasting cure of insomnia. They may temporarily fix some of the symptoms of insomnia while introducing a cohort of new side effects that eventually worsen the condition.
Behavior modification is part of an approach known as “sleep hygiene”, which includes a range of non-pharmacologic interventions that are cheap, easy to implement, and contribute to lasting improvements in sleep quality and duration.
Classical homeopathic prescribing is part of a safe and effective holistic approach that works well in resolving many conditions while restoring healthy sleep.