Sleeping pills are not remedy for sleeplessness. They are habit forming and become less effective when taken continuously. They lower the I.Q. and dull the brain. To overcome the problem, the older person should adhere to a regular sleeping schedule, going to bed at a fixed time each night and getting up at a fixed time each morning. Early to bed and early to rise is a good rule. Two hours of sleep before midnight are more beneficial than four hours after.
Research has shown that people with chronic insomnia almost invariably have marked deficiencies of such key nutrients as B complex vitamins, and Vitamin C and D as also calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc. The sleep mechanism is unable to function efficiently unless each of these nutrients is present in adequate amounts in the diet.
A balanced diet with simple modification in the eating pattern will go a long way in the treatment of insomnia. Such a diet should exclude white flour products, sugar and its products, tea, coffee, chocolate, cola drinks, alcohol, fatty foods, fried foods, foods containing additives, excessive use of salt and strong condiments.
In the modified eating pattern, breakfast should consist of fresh and dried fruits, seeds and milk or yogurt. Of the two main meals, one should consist of a large mixed salad of raw vegetables and the other should be protein based. A cup of milk sweetened with honey at bedtime is helpful as the amino-acid tryptophan contained in milk induces sleep.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of insomnia. One of the most effective of these remedies is the use of lettuce. The juice of this plant has been likened in effect to the sedative action of opium without the accompanying excitement. The seeds of lettuce in decoction form are also useful in insomnia.
The mixture of bottle gourd juice and sesame oil acts as an effective medicine for insomnia. It should be massaged over scalp every night. The cooked leaves of bottle gourd taken as a vegetable are also beneficial in the treatment of this disease.
A tea made from aniseed is valuable in sleeplessness. This tea is prepared by boiling about 375 ml. of water in a vessel and adding a teaspoon of aniseed. The water should be covered with a lid and allowed to simmer for 15 minutes. It should then be strained and drunk hot or warm. The tea may be sweetened with honey and hot milk may also be added to it. This tea should be taken after meals or before going to bed.
Another effective remedy for insomnia is the use of honey. It has hypnotic action in bringing sound sleep. It should be taken with water, before going to bed, in doses of two teaspoons in a cup of water. People generally fall asleep after taking honey.
Controlled breathing is a great help in inducing sleep. The method is to lie on your side in bed and then take three deep breaths expanding the abdomen completely. Then hold your breath as long as you can. Next, take three more breaths and repeat the breath-holding. While you hold breath, carbon dioxide accumulates in the body and induces natural sleep.
Regular active exercise during the day and mild exercise at bedtime enhances the quantity and the quality of sleep. Exercise stimulates the elimination of lactic acid from the body which co-relates with stress and muscular tension. Regular exercise also produces hormonal changes which are beneficial to the body and to the sleep pattern. Walking, jogging, swimming are all ideal exercises.