Sleepless Britain

A good night’s sleep is essential to staying healthy, but it appears more and more people are having problems with sleeplessness. Health and Homeopathy, in conjunction with the natural healthcare specialists Nelsons, takes a look at different aspects of this common problem and how homeopathy may be able to provide a solution.

A new online survey has revealed that the number one cause for sleeplessness in Britain is worry. The YouGov survey1, commissioned by natural healthcare specialists Nelsons, has uncovered that 42 percent of the people surveyed who suffer from sleeplessness are most likely to be kept awake at night by worries, including financial concerns and family problems.

The survey also identified the other main causes for sleeplessness:

  • 13 per cent find noises, such as a snoring partner or traffic, the biggest night-time distraction and obstacle to getting to sleep.
  • 12 per cent found medical problems like asthma and painful joints and muscles the main reason for sleepless nights (Sleeplessness is also a common side-effect of many conventional drugs).*
  • 5 per cent thought drinking too much caffeine was responsible for keeping them awake at night.

The survey found that a staggering 77 per cent of the 2,108 people surveyed said they experienced insomnia to some degree. When this figure is applied to the British population, it reveals that up to 36 million people in Britain could be suffering from a lack of sleep2.

A report by the Mental Health Foundation highlighted the importance of sleep for the mental and physical health of the nation3. Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration and memory, lethargy, irritability, a decrease in co-ordination skills and low mood, which can affect people’s work and social life.

As the YouGov survey suggests, insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns can occur in many forms, and each individual will have their own experiences and their way of dealing with it. Although conventional medicine offers a number of drugs to aid sleep, they can often leave the patient feeling groggy in the morning and many doctors are reluctant to keep on prescribing sleeping-pills over a long period of time. Consequently many people are turning to complementary therapies including homeopathy in search of a good night’s sleep.

Dr Sara Eames from the Royal London Hospital of Integrated Medicine says: “An increasing number of people mention sleep problems during their consultations. Causes can vary from anxiety, stress and grief to emotional and family problems.

“In my experience the problem can be helped using homeopathy and patients appreciate the non-addictive nature of homeopathic medicines. The most frequently prescribed medicines for sleeplessness include Ignatia, which is often used when the problem is due to grief and family problems. Whereas Nux vomica can help if it’s associated with overindulgence of any sort including food, drink and work. I’ve also seen very good results with Cocculus when prescribed for someone who is exhausted by sleep deprivation through caring for others, particularly when it is associated with dizziness.”

Mental over-stimulation, worries at work and emotional upsets are all treated with different homeopathic medicines, so to find a long-lasting solution it’s important to establish the root cause of sleep disturbances to successfully treat them.

Sleep deprived mothers
Motherhood should be an exciting and enjoyable experience but no one will deny it is also a tiring one, particularly in the early months and years. Another poll has revealed that many mothers confess to not enjoying motherhood due to being so exhausted from juggling the conflicting demands of modern life on only five hours sleep4. More than half (56%) said weariness left them in a “state of despair”. However, according to the survey, it seems men are getting off lightly, with less than a third (31%) of fathers waking up when their baby cries in the night even if both parents worked full-time.

Lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect on all aspects of the life of women with young babies, with two thirds of mothers revealing that lack of sleep had put them completely off sex, and 82% of working mothers admitting their performance at work was affected by their lack of sleep.

Once again homeopathy may well be able to help mothers experiencing sleep problems, enabling them to cope much better with the daily pressures and demands that come with motherhood. Chamomilla is often prescribed when people are feeling tired but cannot sleep; whereas Cocculus is useful if you are mentally and physically exhausted of if your sleep has been frequently interrupted. Coffea may be beneficial for those suffering from restless sleep due to waking up regularly during the night, especially when too many thoughts are running through the mind.

Jet lag
More people than ever are taking long-haul breaks to destinations such as Thailand, USA or Australia. But for many the first days of their holiday are ruined by the effects of jet lag. Jet lag is the common name for the condition known medically as desynchronosis. It is a temporary disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms including anxiety, headache, dehydration, fatigue and insomnia as a result of air travel across time zones.

Jet lag occurs when your body’s usual 24 hour regime is disrupted. You may have trouble getting to sleep, wake up during the night or early in the morning, find it difficult to concentrate and be irritable because of tiredness.  To avoid jet lag why not try the following tips:

When on long haul flights, set your watch to the destination time to allow yourself a few extra hours to adjust.
Air conditioning on aeroplanes can cause dehydration, especially a long haul flights, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
Try not to eat a heavy meal on the flight as arriving at your destination hungry will make it easier for you to get into the new eating pattern.
If you feel that you need to sleep once you are at your destination, only nap for an hour or less. Any longer will cause your body to revert back to its original body clock.
While on the flight try to take a walk around the plane every few hours and perform basic stretching exercises to keep blood circulating around your body.

If you have tried these tips and still find that jet lag takes its toll on your holiday, Cocculus is often recommended as it’s indicated when someone is fatigued from travelling and feels tired due to loss of sleep.  Pulsatilla can also help particularly if you can’t sleep due to racing thoughts.

These are just a few of the homeopathic medicines that are indicated by sleeplessness. For those suffering from chronic insomnia, addressing the underlying causes of their condition is crucial to finding an appropriate cure and visiting a homeopath could be the first step to achieving this.

*If you are taking any medicines, including those obtained without a prescription, consult your doctor before taking other medicines.

1. YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2108 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 9th December 2010.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
2. Figure based on population of Great Britain (adults 18+) estimate at 47,319,300 in mid-2009 – & survey by YouGov Plc – calculation made by Nelsons
3. Mental Health Foundation Sleep Matters report –
4. Survey commissioned by Mother & Baby, One thousand UK mothers were questioned with an average age of 30 years: