The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by
Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. Joseph Pizzorno
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
- 3 Major Health Problems
- 5 Ways to Lose Body Fat
- 7 Edible Weeds
- 7 Steps to Healing
- 10 Foods You Should NEVER EAT!!
- 10 Things You Must Do To Beat Breast Cancer Now
- 10 Ways to Increase Energy
- Age Spots
- Alzheimer's Prevention Plan
- Aloe Vera Freeze Dried Capsules and AloeVera Liquid Concentrate
- Anti-Aging Tips
- Anxiety and Stress
- Arteries Clean
- Baby Boomers and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Bacteria and Viral Infections
- Bananas are healthy!
- Beating Breast Cancer with Nutrition
- Belly Fat
- Beta Glucan
- Beauty of Mathematics
- Bio-Identical VS Synthetic Hormones
- Bladder Infection Help - Parsley Tea
- Blood Clots
- Breast Cancer Inducing Chemicals
- Breast Cancer Profile
- Breast Cancer and Synthetic Hormones
- Buying and Preparing Fresh Fish
- Cancer Prevention Tips - Stay Cancer Proof
- Cancer Protection List - Household Items to Avoid
- Chelation Therapy
- Clustered Water/Healthy Immune System
- Cold Sores
- Cortisol and Weight Loss
- Calories and Calore Counting
- Dark Spots On Bananas - Anti Cancer
- Date Rape Drug Information - GHB
- Dental Problems
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Diabetes Travel Tips
- Diseases Do Not Just Happen
- Dr Helen's 1200 Calorie Diet to lose 45 pounds in 3 months
- Eating Genetically Modified Fruits
- Eliminate "White Poison" From Your Diet
- Estrogen Found in Foods/Herbs/Drugs/Chemicals
- Estrogen Inhibiting Foods
- Fatigue and Loss of Energy
- Five Keys to Restoration
- Food Toxins
- Foot Health
- General Question About Natural Hormones
- Hair growth in unwanted places
- Hair Loss
- Headache Check Lists - Headache Symptoms and Headache Causes
- Healing properties of garlic and onions
- Healing / Water Clusters
- Health Updates
- Healthly Foods Chart for Bone Health
- Healthly Foods Chart
- Healthy Food List
- Healthy Living Recipe Options
- Heart Disease - #1 Cause of Death In America
- Heart Disease and Women - Estrogen does not benefit the heart.
- High Blood Pressure - Hypertension
- Highlights from Dr Abraham's interview at the 6th Annual Anti-Aging Conference
- Holiday Meals
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) linked to Hearing Loss
- Hormone Studies
- Inflammation Reduction
- Insomnia Information
- Keeping Your Liver Healthy
- Laser Vision Correction
- LeAine Dehmer Clinical Skincare Specialist Answers Your Questions
- Long Life and Aging
- Lose 45 Pounds In 3 Months
- Mamograms - Infrared Thermography
- Managing Lactose Intolerance
- Mascular Degeneration
- Men and Progesterone
- Men's Prostate Health
- Microbes in an overweight body are more efficient at extracting calories from food.
- Mind Boosters
- Natural Cancer Treatments
- Natural Progesterone and Blood Pressure/Inflammmation
- Non Toxic Hair Dyes
- Olive Leaf Extract
- Organic Dark Unprocessed Chocolate
- Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Health
- Osteoporosis Prevention
- Osteoporosis - Softening of the Bones
- Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Drugs!
- Parasitic Infections
- Parkinson's Desease
- Prostate Cancer & PC Spes
- Purify your Home without Poisons Chemicals
- Red Clover; Health Benefits of Isoflavones
- Phosphatidylserine (PS)
- Potassium In The News
- Preserving Your Sight
- Progesterone - Calming Effects
- Progesterone and Breast Cancer Study
- Progesterone, can we use that name?
- Progesterone, does it build up in your fat cells?
- Progestin VS Natural Progesterone
- Phyto-Progesterone is now called Diosgenin
- Recommended Supplements for Anti-Aging
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Seasonal Allergies
- Secret Remedies
- Shaping Children's Eating Habits
- Signs of Estrogen Deficiency
- Signs of Estrogen Excess
- Signs of Progesterone Excess
- Sinus Problems
- Six Types of Mothers
- Soy Foods May Protect the Body from Cancer
- Symptoms of Low Thyroid
- Synthetic Hormones and Breast Cancer
- Testosterone - how women can increase or decrease Testosterone Levels
- Thinning Hair
- Tips for Traveler's Health
- Top Ten Reasons to Get Off Synthetic Hormones
- Toxic Shampoos
- Type II Diabetes - Insulin Resistance
- Vaginal Dryness - High In Oxalate Foods to Avoid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin Bible and Healthy Tips
- Vitamin D - emphasizing the importance of supplementing with Vitamin D
- Vitamin E - may provide women with protection from breast cancer
- Vitamin K
- Ways to fit fiber in your diet
- Weight Loss
- Wellness Plan
- West Nile Virus
- What to look for in a Biological Dentist
- Why Natural Progesterone is better than Synthetic
- Women and Heart Disease
- Word... Water... Walk...
- Wyeth Pharmaceutical lies in study