Insomnia describes when someone’s experience of sleep is not sufficient to leave them rested and refreshed.


"Dependent on sleep are happiness and misery, corpulence and leanness, strength and weakness, potency and impotency, intellect and non-intellect, life and death.” Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana
The Caraka Samhita (CS) is an early text on Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine). It is one of the two foundational texts of Ayurveda dating back to the period of 900 BCE - 600 BCE.


There are all sorts of different symptoms associated with insomnia such as difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty in staying asleep, waking early, restlessness at night, excessive dreaming, irregular sleep pattern. It often leads to feeling tired, inability to concentrate, increased anxiety and generally feeling ‘washed-out’. Many people suffer from occasional sleeplessness and about 10-15% of all adults suffer from some form of chronic sleep disturbance and a further 30% experiencing some form of transient insomnia. It is important to note that insomnia is often a subjective experience of not getting enough sleep. Whilst most people need eight hours of sleep to feel like they have had a good nights’ sleep many people can get by on much less.

There are multiple causes to insomnia from short-term stress to chronic pain, illness, anxiety and depression. Other causes may be reactive hypoglycemia, digestive disorders, menopausal night sweats, dermatitis, pruritus, late night alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, recreational drugs, late night electronic stimulation (TV, computers, stimulating music), prostate problems, restless leg syndrome, magnesium deficiencies and B vitamin deficiencies. Of course, insomnia increases in the elderly with 50% of people over 70 years old experiencing a chronic form of insomnia. It is important to discover if the causes of insomnia are due to some of these external events or if the causes are more internal. If the external events can be changed then the insomnia can be cured. If insomnia is caused by itching, breathing difficulties, indigestion, prostate issues or pain then the diagnosis is not insomnia, though it should be included in the treatment.

Insomnia and depression are disorders that often go together. Up to 20% of people with insomnia disorder also fulfil criteria for major depression and for people with depression, 69% also report mild or moderate insomnia. Longitudinal studies have showed that insomnia is a well-established risk factor to develop depression and that more severe insomnia is associated with more severe depression. Together these results indicate that it is important to treat sleep problems as they mark a higher risk for future depressive episodes.

Insomnia can exacerbate any other illness or be caused by many illnesses. Either way it can acutely degrade the quality of life leading to chronic tiredness, stress and under performance.

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