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Sleeplessness is quite common in people from time to time. But when sleeplessness becomes a practice characterized by sleeping difficulties and problems in falling asleep. Approximately 30-50 percent of the populace is affected by insomnia, and nearly 10% have been diagnosed with chronic insomnia.

What is it?

Insomnia is not a disease or stand-alone diagnosis, but more of a symptom. Insomnia is defined as a condition that causes difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep. The cause of insomnia can either be inadequate quantity or quality of proper sleep. Insomnia cannot be defined by definite number of sleeping hours one is getting, since some individuals have varied sleeping needs, patterns and practices.

Although we are all aware of insomnia and what it is like and how does one feel as well as perform after going through one or even more sleepless nights.Insomnia includes problems in falling asleep or staying asleep for the required number of hours. It is a prevalent medical complaint in average adults. With insomnia, people usually tend to wake up feeling tired, which in turn takes a toll on the ability of the person to function properly althrough the day.

Insomnia can not only debilitate your energy levels and moods, but can as well affect your overall health, performance at work and quality of life.An average adult must sleep for 7-8 hours on a regular basis.

However, the exact number of hours one needs to sleep would depend on the person and his/her health conditions.  An estimated one-third of the adults have insomnia once in their life time. Almost 10%-15% cases suffer from long-term insomnia, which is chronic in nature.Nonetheless, you need not put up with such sleepless nights all through your life. Make some simple changes in your lifestyle and daily habits can help in resolving as well as developing the required rest.


Insomnia can be divided into 2 types:

A)Primary insomnia: It means that the person is having simple problems with sleeping and there isn’t any underlying health condition or complication associated with the sleeping problems.
B)Secondary insomnia: It means that the person suffering from insomnia has some other associated
problems such as depression, asthma, cancer, arthritis or heartburn. Medications can also be a cause of secondary insomnia.

Insomnia usually stems from other associated problems, such as medical conditions causing pain or the use of certain substances that can interfere with one’s sleep.  Some of the familiar causes of insomnia are:

*Stress and anxiety
*Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine
*Medical conditions
*Poor sleeping patterns
*Having very late diner


Various signs and symptoms of insomnia have been identified by doctors.  Some of the commonly noticed symptoms of insomnia are:

*Difficulty in sleeping at night
*Awakening at night due  to problems with sleep
*Waking up very early
*Feeling lazy and lethargic even after resting at night
*Depression, anxiety and irritability
*Lack of focus and attention on tasks
*Increased accidents or errors
*Unusual headaches due to tension and lack of proper sleep
*Gastrointestinal symptoms
*Persistent tension about sleep
*Impaired motor coordination

If you fail to function properly during the day due to insomnia, you must consult a doctor immediately to understand what the cause of the problem is and how this problem can be treated. If the doctor thinks that you could be suffering from "sleep disorder", he might refer you to a sleep center for tests and examinations.


During the diagnosis of insomnia, the doctor usually asks a number of questions to the patient and might as well have a questionnaire to be completed. This helps in determining the wake-sleep pattern and the level of sleepiness during the day.  You might also have to maintain a record of your sleep for a few weeks.Depending on the condition, the doctor might recommend some physical examinations to determine the signs and symptoms of some other problems that might lead to insomnia. Occasionally, some blood tests might be required for diagnosing thyroid problems or some other conditions that could cause insomnia.

Incase if you are diagnosed with any other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, you’ll have to visit a sleep center for some tests and proper diagnosis. These tests would include brain waves, heartbeat, breathing, body movements and eye movements.


Addressing the underlying cause of the condition and changing the sleep habits can help in restoring restful sleep. Good sleep hygiene is also helpful in maintaining the bed time and the rising time; it promotes sleep and ensures daytime alertness.

Some of the commonly used medications for treating insomnia are the Benzodiazepines such as zopiclone, triazolam (Hypam), and midazolam(Hypnovel). However, these mediations can cause dependency after long term use and in some cases daytime drowsiness.

Somes synthetic or natural alternatives to drugs are available through prescription or Over The Counter and they seem to work very well in most cases. The other benefits of these natural remedies is that you get a natural sleep because they increase the amount of 5HTP or serotonin level in your brain.
So what are these alternatives?
1. Melatonin: Prescription only and a really good product for helping to sustain a good sleeping
pattern especially if sleep has gone out of sink either with daylight savings, shift work etc as well as getting a good night sleep. Great for altheletes who do not want pharmaceutical medicines which may be banned in certain sports. Usually a 1mg dose at night will do the trick.

2. Good Health Deep sleep: contains the effective herbs Passionflower, Californian Poppy and Jamaican Dogwood to support the nervous system and aid normal sleep patterns.
3. Clinicians REM Sleep:Contains Vitamin,mineral & botanical combination for sleep support
4. Valarain products:Valerian has traditionally been used to aid relaxation and improve sleep
quality amongst habitually poor and irregular sleepers.
5. Kava has been shown to be effetive in alleviating anxiety and helping sleep

There are some natural insomnia cures, such as behavior therapies that can give some relief. Some of the commonly used behavior therapies are:

*Learning about proper sleeping habits: Sleep hygiene is extremely important for promoting good sleep. It teaches the sleeping patterns for further improvement.
*Cognitive behavior therapy: This therapy helps in replacing all the worries about one’s inability
to sleep with some positive thoughts. With this therapy, it is possible to teach a person through group sessions or one-on-one counseling sessions.
*Relaxation techniques: Breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback
techniques are excellent for reducing anxiety before gong to bed. These strategies can help you in controlling the heart rate, breathing, and mood and muscle tension.
*Sleep restriction: This treatment helps in decreasing the amount of time that you usually spend in
your bed, thus resulting in partial sleep deprivation that usually makes a person more tired the very next night.
*Stimulus control: This treatment makes you limit the time that you spend in bed, awake.


*Maintain a proper time to sleep at night, and sleep at the very same time every night.
*Avoid drinking coffee, tea and alcohol.
*Avoid smoking as nicotine contains such stimulants that can prevent you from sleeping.
*Exercise regularly and be active.
*Avoid eating heavy meal late during the day. Your dinner should be light and approximately 2-3
hours before bed.
*Your bedroom must be comfortable. Make sure it is quiet, dark and cool for you.
*Make a routine that can help you in relaxing before going to bed. Listen to some music; read a book
or take a shower.


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Medicines have benefits and some may have risks . Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. Vitamins are supplementary to and not a replacement for a balanced diet.