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If you are not getting enough sleep in this post-Covid 19 world, you may have what is known as primary insomnia. This is defined as difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, or having non-refreshing sleep every night for at least one month.

Secondary insomnia is insomnia caused by an underlying medical condition, such as having a chronic cough, taking stimulating medications for allergies (common in the Spring) or taking an antidepressant. Many people have anxiety during times of scarcity and uncertainty, as can happen during a pandemic and experience bouts of sleeplessness.

We are all familiar with the main symptom of insomnia which is quite simply failing to fall asleep and staying asleep. Insomniacs may also fall asleep for a few hours and then wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fulfill having a total night’s rest.

Getting enough sleep is crucial because a lack of it can cause fatigue, overeating, foggy thinking and actually lower your resistance to disease and infection at a time in history when being alert, mindful and having an efficient immune system can save your life.

Causes of Insomnia

Anxiety, stress, coffee, and alcohol are the most common causes of insomnia. There may not be much you can do about anxiety except begin to deal your fears. Remember that anxiety is a state of sustained anticipation, and this can be dealt with by learning how to shut off your “fight or flight” mechanisms using meditation, relaxing music or taking a soothing bath.

Depression is a very common cause of secondary insomnia. Often, insomnia is the symptom for which people with depression seek medical attention, only to be prescribed anti-depressants which may better or worsen the situation. Psychotherapy, acupuncture and hypnosis may also help you handle the issue.

Lifestyle Tips For Handling Insomnia

Many cases of insomnia can be treated with some simple lifestyle changes. Try the following adjustments before taking any pills or medications for the problem.

  • Establish a regular sleeping pattern. Go to bed at 11 am every night and rise again at 8 pm. This can help reset your body clock.
  • Don’t take naps during the day. Snoozing is very tempting during a pandemic, and especially when you are isolating. Busy yourself with a project or a hobby and avoid the mid-afternoon or after-dinner nap that might interfere with night-time sleep,
  • Keep the bedroom comfortable and quiet. If too much quiet is the problem consider getting a white noise machine. Running a fan or playing a softly in the background can also help lull you to sleep.
  • You will also be advised not to indulge in coffee, sugar, caffeine or any recreational drugs as all of these things can cause insomnia.
  • Avoid eating a large meal close to bedtime. Foods that may trigger insomnia also include bacon, cheese, chocolate sauerkraut, red wine, cocoa, sausage, eggplant, spinach and tomatoes.
  • Try to eat more foods that contain L-tryphotan, an amino acid that induces sleep. This includes foods such as milk, turkey, bananas, figs dates, peanut butter tuna and whole grain crackers.
  • Get out of bed if you are not asleep after 5-10 minutes and doing something else (going to another room may help reduce anxiety about falling asleep)
  • Practice evening relaxation routines such as muscle relaxation or meditation.
  • Relaxing by taking a warm bath before bed can also help you get to sleep at night.

If you are unsure as to what behavioral maneuvers you should take to combat insomnia, a Toronto Naturopathic Doctor, hypnotist, or acupuncturist can help. Quitting addictions such as alcohol or nicotine can also help remedy the issue. We can also help you address the physical or psychological cause of your sleep-deprivation.

For more information about insomnia, age-related insomnia, nutrition, recovering, naturopathic testing, weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre website that has a list of full services and products at www.pinewoodhealth.ca or call our Toronto Office at  (416)-656- 8100.  We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. You can also email us at info@pinewoodhealth.ca and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.

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