Helen Pensanti, M.D.

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The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by
Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. Joseph Pizzorno

Insomnia Information

Dr. Pensanti wishes to thank Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, physicians of Natural Medicine, who have collaborated on the book, "The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine," for their contribution of information for this program.

Probably the most important contributors to a healthy lifestyle are: 1) eating a healthy and varied diet; 2) a regular exercise program; and 3) good sleeping habits. Human sleep is perhaps one of the least understood physiological processes we employ, but absolutely essential to both body and mind.

How much sleep does a person need?

It obviously varies with the person, but tends to decrease with age. A one year old baby requires about 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.

A five year old needs about 12 hours in a 24 hour period.

An adult generally requires about 8 hours, with women requiring slightly more sleep than men.

The older a person gets, the less sleep they need, but their ability to sustain sleep gets more difficult also, probably as a result of decreased levels of important brain chemicals, primarily serotonin and melatonin.

What are the causes of insomnia?

The most common causes of insomnia are psychological: depression, anxiety and tension. If psychological factors do not seem to be the cause, various foods, drinks, and medications may be responsible.

How is it treated?

Traditionally, insomnia has been treated with two classes of drugs, antihistamines and benzodiazepines. Antihistamines like Benadryl and Nytol are available over the counter, while benzodiazepines like valium and helicon are available by prescription only. Both classes of drugs are effective in the short term, but can cause significant problems with long term use.

Looking for causative factors of insomnia and treating those is a much more effective approach. But it should be stated that if you have taken a benzodiazepine for more than four weeks, do not stop taking the drug suddenly, for symptoms of withdrawal can include anxiety, irritability, panic, insomnia, nausea, headache, impaired concentration, memory loss, depression, extreme sensitivity to the environment, seizures, hallucinations and paranoia. It is important to work with your primary care physician to slowly taper off the drug.

More natural ways to deal with insomnia on the physical level include making sure your diet if free of natural stimulants, such as caffeine and related compounds like colas, chocolate, cocoa, tea and even coffee flavored ice cream. Alcohol can also have sleep-impairing effects. Nocturnal hypoglycemia (caused by nighttime snacking or overeating of refined carbohydrates) can wreak havoc on healthy sleep cycles as well.

A good exercise program also promotes healthy sleep. Exercise should be performed in the morning or early evening, not before bedtime, and should be of moderate intensity.

There are also numerous muscle relaxing techniques that can promote a sense of well being and prepare the body and mind for sleep.

If a little help is still needed, supplementing your diet with tryptophan (which promotes serotonin release) or melatonin, which are naturally occurring substances, shortly before bedtime, can be helpful.

Don't forget that psychological factors such as depression, anxiety and tension are the number one causes of insomnia. Do what is in your power to do to reduce stress factors in your life, and better rest will follow.

So to summarize, effective treatment of insomnia involves identifying and addressing causative factors, not masking them with over the counter or prescription drugs that can cause bigger problems in the long run.



Helen Pensanti M.D.

Research Info Archives

  1. 3 Major Health Problems
  2. 5 Ways to Lose Body Fat
  3. 7 Edible Weeds
  4. 7 Steps to Healing
  5. 10 Foods You Should NEVER EAT!!
  6. 10 Things You Must Do To Beat Breast Cancer Now
  7. 10 Ways to Increase Energy
  8. Acne
  9. Age Spots
  10. Alzheimer's Prevention Plan
  11. Aloe Vera Freeze Dried Capsules and AloeVera Liquid Concentrate
  12. Anti-Aging Tips
  13. Anxiety and Stress
  14. Arteries Clean
  15. Arthritis
  16. Atherosclerosis
  17. Baby Boomers and Alzheimer’s Disease
  18. Bacteria and Viral Infections
  19. Bananas are healthy!
  20. Beating Breast Cancer with Nutrition
  21. Belly Fat
  22. Beta Glucan
  23. Beauty of Mathematics
  24. Bio-Identical VS Synthetic Hormones
  25. Bladder Infection Help - Parsley Tea
  26. Blood Clots
  27. Breast Cancer Inducing Chemicals
  28. Breast Cancer Profile
  29. Breast Cancer and Synthetic Hormones
  30. Buying and Preparing Fresh Fish
  31. Cancer Prevention Tips - Stay Cancer Proof
  32. Cancer Protection List - Household Items to Avoid
  33. Cataracts
  34. Chelation Therapy
  35. Clustered Water/Healthy Immune System
  36. Cold Sores
  37. Constipation
  38. Cortisol and Weight Loss
  39. Calories and Calore Counting
  40. Cystitis
  41. Dark Spots On Bananas - Anti Cancer
  42. Date Rape Drug Information - GHB
  43. Dental Problems
  44. Diabetes
  45. Diabetes Mellitus
  46. Diabetes Travel Tips
  47. Diseases Do Not Just Happen
  48. Dr Helen's 1200 Calorie Diet to lose 45 pounds in 3 months
  49. Eating Genetically Modified Fruits
  50. Eliminate "White Poison" From Your Diet
  51. Estrogen Found in Foods/Herbs/Drugs/Chemicals
  52. Estrogen Inhibiting Foods
  53. Fatigue
  54. Fatigue and Loss of Energy
  55. Five Keys to Restoration
  56. Food Toxins
  57. Foot Health
  58. General Question About Natural Hormones
  59. Hair growth in unwanted places
  60. Hair Loss
  61. Headache Check Lists - Headache Symptoms and Headache Causes
  62. Healing properties of garlic and onions
  63. Healing / Water Clusters
  64. Health Updates
  65. Healthly Foods Chart for Bone Health
  66. Healthly Foods Chart
  67. Healthy Food List
  68. Healthy Living Recipe Options
  69. Heart Disease - #1 Cause of Death In America
  70. Heart Disease and Women - Estrogen does not benefit the heart.
  71. High Blood Pressure - Hypertension
  72. Hepatitis
  73. Highlights from Dr Abraham's interview at the 6th Annual Anti-Aging Conference
  74. Holiday Meals
  75. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) linked to Hearing Loss
  76. Hormone Studies
  77. Inflammation Reduction
  78. Insomnia Information
  79. Keeping Your Liver Healthy
  80. Laser Vision Correction
  81. LeAine Dehmer Clinical Skincare Specialist Answers Your Questions
  82. Long Life and Aging
  83. Lose 45 Pounds In 3 Months
  84. Mamograms - Infrared Thermography
  85. Managing Lactose Intolerance
  86. Mascular Degeneration
  87. Men and Progesterone
  88. Men's Prostate Health
  89. Microbes in an overweight body are more efficient at extracting calories from food.
  90. Mind Boosters
  91. Natural Cancer Treatments
  92. Natural Progesterone and Blood Pressure/Inflammmation
  93. Non Toxic Hair Dyes
  94. Olive Leaf Extract
  95. Organic Dark Unprocessed Chocolate
  96. Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Health
  97. Osteoporosis Prevention
  98. Osteoporosis - Softening of the Bones
  99. Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Drugs!
  100. Parasitic Infections
  101. Parkinson's Desease
  102. Prostate Cancer & PC Spes
  103. Purify your Home without Poisons Chemicals
  104. Red Clover; Health Benefits of Isoflavones
  105. Phosphatidylserine (PS)
  106. Potassium In The News
  107. Preserving Your Sight
  108. Progesterone - Calming Effects
  109. Progesterone and Breast Cancer Study
  110. Progesterone, can we use that name?
  111. Progesterone, does it build up in your fat cells?
  112. Progestin VS Natural Progesterone
  113. Phyto-Progesterone is now called Diosgenin
  114. Recommended Supplements for Anti-Aging
  115. Seasonal Affective Disorder
  116. Seasonal Allergies
  117. Secret Remedies
  118. Shaping Children's Eating Habits
  119. Signs of Estrogen Deficiency
  120. Signs of Estrogen Excess
  121. Signs of Progesterone Excess
  122. Sinus Problems
  123. Six Types of Mothers
  124. Soy Foods May Protect the Body from Cancer
  125. Symptoms of Low Thyroid
  126. Synthetic Hormones and Breast Cancer
  127. Testosterone - how women can increase or decrease Testosterone Levels
  128. Thinning Hair
  129. Tinnitus
  130. Tips for Traveler's Health
  131. Top Ten Reasons to Get Off Synthetic Hormones
  132. Toxic Shampoos
  133. Type II Diabetes - Insulin Resistance
  134. Vaginal Dryness - High In Oxalate Foods to Avoid
  135. Vitamin A
  136. Vitamin B
  137. Vitamin Bible and Healthy Tips
  138. Vitamin D - emphasizing the importance of supplementing with Vitamin D
  139. Vitamin E - may provide women with protection from breast cancer
  140. Vitamin K
  141. Ways to fit fiber in your diet
  142. Weight Loss
  143. Wellness Plan
  144. West Nile Virus
  145. What to look for in a Biological Dentist
  146. Why Natural Progesterone is better than Synthetic
  147. Women and Heart Disease
  148. Word... Water... Walk...
  149. Wyeth Pharmaceutical lies in study

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