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1. What is sleep?

the human body follows a natural, (approximately) 24-hour pattern called the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is influenced by the environment (such as lightness or darkness) as well as your genetic makeup and determines your sleep patterns by releasing hormones when it’s time to sleep. Abnormalities in the circadian rhythm can lead to sleep disorders like insomnia.

Sleep has two main phases—REM and non-REM. We spend about a quarter of our sleeping lives in the REM phase, which is a period of vigorous brain activity, marked by vivid dreams. This stage may be responsible for consolidating information and processing memories, which is why babies (whose entire days are full of new experiences the brain needs to process) spend twice as much time in REM sleep than adults do.

Non-REM sleep has three to four distinct stages (depending on which experts you ask). These grow gradually deeper throughout the night until it becomes very difficult to be disturbed from sleep. During this time, the body works to gently lower the heart rate, temperature, and breathing rate.

2. What is insomnia

insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.

Acute insomnia is brief and often happens because of life circumstances (for example, when you can't fall asleep the night before an exam, or after receiving stressful or bad news). Many people may have experienced this type of passing sleep disruption, and it tends to resolve without any treatment.

Chronic insomnia is disrupted sleep that occurs at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. Chronic insomnia disorders can have many causes. Changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, shift work, other clinical disorders, and certain medications could lead to a long-term pattern of insufficient sleep.

People with insomnia tend to have difficulty falling asleep (onset), staying asleep (maintenance), and/or they wake up too early in the morning.

Associated conditions

Clinomania is derived from the Greek words “clino”, which means bed and “mania”, which means addiction. Literally speaking, clinomania means “addiction to bed”. Clinomaniacs are people who suffer from this condition and they feel a strong need to be in bed, without any concern whatsoever to their responsibilities in the outside world. This can potentially lead to a host of health issues and personal problems. Yes, clinomania is a psychological or mental disorder. It is an anxiety disorder and is linked to other anxiety disorders such as depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Sleep apnoea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnoea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.

Narcolepsy is a rare long-term brain disorder that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate times. The brain is unable to regulate sleeping and waking patterns normally, which can result in:

3. Signs and symptoms

· Difficulty falling asleep at night

· Waking up during the night

· Waking up too early

· Not feeling well-rested after a night's sleep

· Daytime tiredness or sleepiness

· Irritability, depression or anxiety

· Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering

· Increased errors or accidents

· Ongoing worries about sleep

Common causes of chronic insomnia include:

Stress. Concerns about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events or trauma — such as the death or illness of a loved one, divorce, or a job loss — also may lead to insomnia.

Travel or work schedule. Your circadian rhythms act as an internal clock, guiding such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and body temperature. Disrupting your body's circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia. Causes include jet lag from travelling across multiple time zones, working a late or early shift, or frequently changing shifts.

Poor sleep habits. Poor sleep habits include an regular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for work, eating or watching TV. Computers, TVs, video games, smartphones or other screens just before bed can interfere with your sleep cycle.

Eating too much late in the evening. Having a light snack before bedtime is OK but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. Many people also experience heartburn, a back flow of acid and food from the stomach into the oesophagus after eating, which may keep you awake.

Additional common causes of insomnia include:

Mental health disorders. Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, may disrupt your sleep. Awakening too early can be a sign of depression. Insomnia often occurs with other mental health disorders as well.

Medications. Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain antidepressants and medications for asthma or blood pressure. Many over-the-counter medications — such as some pain medications, allergy and cold medications, and weight-loss products — contain caffeine and other stimulants that can disrupt sleep.

Medical conditions. Examples of conditions linked with insomnia include chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), overactive thyroid, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Sleep-related disorders. Sleep apnoea causes you to stop breathing periodically throughout the night, interrupting your sleep. Restless legs syndrome causes unpleasant sensations in your legs and an almost irresistible desire to move them, which may prevent you from falling asleep.

Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Drinking them in the late afternoon or evening can keep you from falling asleep at night. Nicotine in tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes awakening in the middle of the nigh

4. How to deal with insomnia (treatments/management)


· Magnesium - Is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system and is also thought to improve sleep by decreasing the body's release of cortisol. Magnesium also works with calcium, to help muscles contract and then relax. To help you sleep, try magnesium powder, tablets or capsules, alone or in formulas that also include an assortment of soothing herbs.

· 5-HTP (5-hydroxy- tryptophan) - Is made by the body from tryptophan as an intermediate step in making serotonin. It’s most commonly used to treat depression and may be effective in treating insomnia that’s secondary to mood disorders.

· L-theanine - A compound found in green tea, has a calming effect on the brain; studies suggest that it’s readily absorbed in large quantities, crosses the blood-brain barrier, gets into the brain quickly, and impacts levels of the amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters. You’ll find it in single formula tablets and capsules, and in combination with other sleep-inducing nutrients.

· Flower essences - Made by infusing spring water with various flowers, are safe, gentle, and excellent for children. The most common remedies are cherry plum (for relaxing and letting go), impatiens (for releasing tension), and white chestnut (for relaxing the mind). Use them individually or in combination formulas.

· Valerian Root - this herb is one of the most popular (and scientifically proven) natural remedies for sleeplessness. Valerian primarily functions as an anxiolytic—an anxiety reliever with calming, sedative effects. It increases the levels of a natural neurochemical in our bodies called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).

· Adaptogens (e.g. ashwagandha, Rhodiola) - Adaptogens help you adapt to chronic or long-standing stress both mental and physical by improving the heart function,immune action and your mental capacity or prowess in handling repeated depressing situations. Our ancestors have used these herbs both knowingly and not knowingly as they keep you rejuvenated throughout the day without letting the stress get to you. (Highly recommended).

-Foods to help sleep

· A cup of Bed of bedtime tea - Chamomile, ginger, passionflower, valerian and peppermint are calming choices for bedtime.

· And almonds and walnuts specifically, contain melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Eating them can increase your blood levels of the hormone, helping you sleep more soundly.

· Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which may improve sleep quality when eaten before bed. Two kiwis before bed may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

· Bananas contain tryptophan and are a good source of magnesium. Both properties may help you get a good night’s sleep

· Tart Cherry Juice The sleep-promoting effects of tart cherry juice are due to its high content of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep

-Lifestyle tips

Stimulus control therapy. This method helps remove factors that condition your mind to resist sleep. For example, you might be coached to set a consistent bedtime and wake time and avoid naps, use the bed only for sleep and sex, and leave the bedroom if you can't go to sleep within 20 minutes, only returning when you're sleepy.

Relaxation techniques. Progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback and breathing exercises are ways to reduce anxiety at bedtime. Practicing these techniques can help you control your breathing, heart ra

te, muscle tension and mood so that you can relax.

Sleep restriction. This therapy decreases the time you spend in bed and avoids daytime naps, causing partial sleep deprivation, which makes you more tired the next night. Once your sleep has improved, your time in bed is gradually increased.

Remaining passively awake. Also called paradoxical intention, this therapy for learned insomnia is aimed at reducing the worry and anxiety about being able to get to sleep by getting in bed and trying to stay awake rather than expecting to fall asleep.

Light therapy. If you fall asleep too early and then awaken too early, you can use light to push back your internal clock. You can go outside during times of the year when it's light outside in the evenings, or you can use a light box. Talk to your doctor about recommendations.

5. Fun Facts

· What animal sleep the longest? Koala – 22 hours, whilst a giraffe only needs 1.9 hours of sleep a day,

· 12% of people dream entirely in black and white - Analysis revealed that people who had access to black and white media before colour media experienced more greyscale dreams than people with no such exposure

· Humans Used to Sleep in Two Shifts - During this waking period, people would relax, ponder their dreams, or have sex. Some would engage in activities like sewing, chopping wood, or reading, relying on the light of the moon or oil lamps.



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