Chronic primary insomnia is defined as difficulty in initiating or maintaining sleep or of non-restorative sleep that lasts for at least 1 month and causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The homeopathic simillimum is that remedy which most closely corresponds to the totality of symptoms; remedy selection is based on a full evaluation of the patient’s physical, emotional and mental characteristics.
Homeopathy can help one overcome sleeplessness. Being unable to sleep can be one of the most frustrating conditions. People often complain that they feel alone, isolated by their wakefulness when everyone around them is deep in the arms of Morpheus. Yet insomnia is very common. Sleep troubles affect 25 per cent of people at some point, and over ten per cent of the adult population has a chronic problem with insomnia.
There have been many famous insomniacs. Vincent Van Gogh apparently used to douse his mattress and pillow regularly with a strong concentration of camphor in an effort to deal with his sleeplessness. Marilyn Monroe was another regular insomniac who used hypnotics to get off to sleep and whose sad death was thought to have resulted from an overdose of sleeping tablets. Judy Garland’s problems with sleep seemed to arise from an addiction to amphetamines, which kept her awake and which she countered by taking sleeping tablets. Finally, Groucho Marx developed intractable insomnia after the 1929 Wall Street Crash in which he lost a fortune. Rather than turning to alcohol or sleeping tablets he developed a unique method of easing his isolation during his sleepless nights. He randomly used to ring up total strangers and insult them on the telephone. It did not help him to sleep, but it apparently mellowed his temper.
Infants sleep for about 14 to 16 hours a day, in several episodes. Older children develop a pattern more similar to an adult, with the noted adolescence period being characterised by extreme somnolence. Then in the elderly, there is a 10 to 15 per cent reduction in sleep.Physiologically, this means that to have the complete restorative sleep, the total time in bed must increase. Unfortunately, because more time is spent in the lighter stages of sleep there is more opportunity for various medical conditions to impinge on the sleeper and waken them to cause a complaint of insomnia.
As with any human parameter, it is hard to lay down numbers about ideal durations of sleep. Some people may sleep efficiently for six hours with no complaint, yet others need a full eight or nine hours of unbroken sleep. Insomnia is therefore a highly subjective complaint.A reasonable working definition of insomnia could therefore be: a complaint of difficulty in initiating and/or maintaining satisfying sleep.
There may be obvious causes of insomnia, such as prostate problems in men, bladder problems, heart failure, hormonal changes and various arthritic or painful conditions. There may be underlying psychological causes such as simple worry, more marked anxiety or depression. Habit problems, such as too much caffeine, tobacco or alcohol, or side-effects from medication may also play a part. And, of course, restless or noisy bed-fellows may be keeping one awake. Finally, if the individual is a snorer then sleep apnoea needs to be considered. In this condition the respiratory drive is low during sleep, causing periods when the individual stops breathing and either snores loudly or wakes up. If this is suspected then a medical opinion should be sought.
Homeopathy can often make a big difference to insomniacs. The approach is to consider the sleep disturbance as part of the overall clinical picture. There is no such thing as a homeopathic sleep-ing-tablet, just as there is no such thing as a homeopathic painkiller. The well-selected remedy, if it includes the pattern of the sleep disturbance, may solve the problem.
Adopting good sleep preparations is worthwhile. The following may help:
1. Get into a bed-time routine;
2. Make your bedroom a place for sleep not a study, computer or TV room;
3. Make your bedroom a quiet room without ticking clocks, etc;
4. Make it a dark room when the lights go off;
5. Avoid caffeine, tobacco or alcohol in the late evening;
6. Have the room temperature just right;
7. If you can’t sleep after half an hour get up and do something pleasurable until you feel sleepy.