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3. Early morning waking
occurs in depression.

4. Phase/shift disorders
normal sleep duration but at abnormal times of the day.

5. Cyclical insomnia
due to drugs or alcohol abuse.

How is insomnia treated?

Acute or short tern insomnia may not require treatment. If your insomnia makes it hard to function during the day because you are sleepy and tired, your G.P. may prescribe sleeping pills for a short period of time. The rapid onset, short acting medications now available do not have as many side effects of older medications. Some medications become less effective after several weeks of use and long term safety and effectiveness of sleeping tablets is not yet known.

Treatment for chronic insomnia includes first treating any underlying conditions or health problems that are causing the insomnia. Your G.P. may prescribe sleeping tablets or behavioural therapy which focuses on changing habits which may exacerbate the insomnia. Such as reducing external noise factors, this can mean insulating windows against noise or using earplugs, or changing pillows and bedding if this prevents you from sleeping, avoidance of caffine during the evening and not using any form of stimulants. Most medications including those available over the counter have side effects and must be used with caution.

Natural treatments for insomnia include: acupuncture, herbal remedies, reflexology, aromatherapy, hypnosis and relaxation therapy. These techniques are much less damaging to the body and do have a limited success but none has shown consistent results with all types of insomnia.

Circadian rhythm and melatonin.

The body's’ circadian rhythm (biological body clock), which determines when you sleep and when you wake is controlled by a hormone call melatonin– which in turn is released by the pea sized pineal gland buried deep in the brain. As with other hormones, levels of melatonin decrease with age, so that by age 60 your body produces half the amount of melatonin it did when your were age 20.

The pineal gland is sensitive to outside influences such as environmental pollution, stress, illness and other hormonal changes these can reduce the levels of melatonin produced by the pineal gland.

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