Understand and fight against sleep disorders

Mental disorders and sleep disorders

Sleep is a natural phenomenon which results in a loss of consciousness and the outside world. The French sleep on average 7 hours on weekdays and 8 hours on weekends.

During a night’s sleep, there are 3 to 5 cycles of approximately 90 minutes.

Each cycle is broken down into:

  • A phase of slow sleep with 4 stages, during which the activity of the EEG (electroencephalogram) slows more and more
  • A phase of paradoxical sleep characterized by rapid EEG activity, phase during which dreams occur and which is when important events of the day are remembered.

Slow sleep makes up about 75-80% of total sleep time in an adult.

Circadian rhythm disorders :

It is a dysfunction between the waking and sleeping rhythms.

  • Time zone syndrome

It occurs in the event of rapid travel with passage through more than two time zones. In particular, trips to the east (which advance the sleep cycle) have been found to cause more severe symptoms than trips to the west (which delay the sleep cycle).

These symptoms will last for the time of recovery, which varies from one individual to another. The person will be tired, in an irritable mood due to unstable rest.

  • Disorders due to shift work

These disorders will be proportional to the frequency of modification of the schedules. Sleep is of poorer quality, noise and light interfering with the period of rest; the sleep period is too short, we speak of “chronic deprivation”, with the appearance of various disorders (irritability, depression, gastrointestinal disorders).

  • Alteration of the sleep phase

    • Phase delay syndrome: the subject spontaneously goes to bed later and, having to get up at the same time, will experience sleep deprivation (very common phenomenon in adolescents)
    • Advanced phase syndrome: especially in older people who tend to go to bed earlier, sleep decreases and is interspersed with small episodes of wakefulness.
  • Restless legs syndrome

It combines:

  1. An impatience syndrome of the lower limbs with tingling sensations, runoff, burning in the lower limbs during the waking phase
  2. Movements of the lower limbs and their extremities during sleep that cause sleep disorganization

It is difficult to fall asleep, insomnia tends to become chronic and leads to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood disorders.

Naturopathic advice to limit circadian rhythm disorders: :

  • Taking melatonin can help minimize the effects of jet lag and shift work issues
  • Having good sleep habits can help
  • Exposing the eyes to bright light at appropriate times may be the most useful strategy. These exposures help resynchronize the internal clock. For example, to minimize jet lag, travelers should spend time in the sun, especially in the morning, after arriving at their destination. Shift workers should be exposed to bright light (sun or artificial light) when they need to be awake. Wearing sunglasses on the way home reduces exposure to bright light before sleep and may help people who work shifts fall asleep more easily after returning home. While the shift workers are asleep, they should make the bedroom as dark and quiet as possible. Sleep masks and white noise devices can be used. Exposure to bright light in the morning can help people with delayed sleep disorder. Bright light at night can help people with advanced sleep disorder.
  • Another strategy is to gradually shift the sleep-wake schedule to the desired one. Travelers can benefit from a gradual change in their schedule to move closer to their destination, starting well in advance of travel time

What plant in case of circadian rhythm disorders  

Valerian is an agonist of 5-HT5a receptors and plays a role in the serotonergic regulation of the circadian cycle by increasing the level of 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin)

Insomnia :

Insomnia is the insufficiency or absence of sleep, which does not allow proper relief. This is interspersed with early awakenings and awakenings.

The most important form of these disorders is sleep-onset insomnia. The subject does not fall asleep for several hours, as a result of an anxious state, a poor lifestyle (alcoholism, smoking, too large or too late meals, etc.) This form of insomnia can also manifest itself in second part of the night, after 3 am: the subject wakes up anxious or dominated by obsessive thoughts, then ends his night with poor quality sleep. It can be the cause of headaches during the day, irritability, drowsiness.

Nighttime crawling causing insomnia is often due to a collapse of GABA.

  • The main causes

    • Hyperstimulation of the arousal system: noise, anxiety, psychological trauma, intellectual or physical hyperactivity
    • Psychological factors: stress, anxiety, depression, neurosis
      • physiological: too heavy meals, too much caffeine consumption
      • pathological: sleep apnea, asthma, restless legs syndrome, bedwetting, chronic alcoholism

There are two types of insomnia:

  1. Acute insomnia that lasts 1 to 3 weeks
  2. Chronic insomnia that manifests at least 3 nights a week for at least 1 month

Naturopathic advice to limit insomnia attacks:

  • Prefer light meals in the evening
  • Avoid consuming caffeine or sympathomimetics or other stimulant drugs (usually around bedtime, but even in the afternoon in people who are particularly sensitive)
  • Relax before bed
  • Avoiding exercise or excitement (eg, catchy TV show) late in the eveningAvoid compensating for a sleep debt by sleeping late or by naps, in fact this subsequently fragments nighttime sleep
  • People with insomniacs should adopt a regular wake-up time and avoid naps regardless of the amount of nighttime sleep

What plants for insomnia attacks?

It induces sleep induction by inhalation

Sedative, it is indicated in insomnia and sleep disorders by evening excitement

Renowned for its sedative and sleep regulating properties, this plant is used in nervous disorders and insomnia.

Hypnotic and sleep inducer, it decreases the time it takes to fall asleep and prolongs the duration of sleep by inhibiting the enzymatic degradation of catecholamines.

Its action on serotonin by certain alkaloids which bind to serotoninergic 5-HT receptors (protopine, aporphine) is not negligible. The induction mechanism is done, among other things, by modulation of GAGA-A.

Eschscholtzia is used in the treatment of insomnia, especially those due to difficulty falling asleep and anxiety. The duration of falling asleep is markedly reduced.

Lemon balm leaves exert a sedative and tranquilizing effect comparable to that obtained with benzodiazepines. Melissa officinalis promotes sleep in cases of sleep insomnia, as well as in benzodiazepine withdrawal. This plant is indicated in nervousness, insomnia and anxiety.

Did you know ?

Doing a Magnesium cure has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and promotes sleep induction. Besides various psychological processes, magnesium also plays an important role in the production of melatonin:

  • Inorganic salts are generally poorly absorbed by the body. At high doses, they can be responsible for accelerating transit, or even diarrhea (magnesium chloride, magnesium hydroxide, etc.).
  • Organic salts are better assimilated and better tolerated by the body (magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, etc.).
  • The “amino-complexed” salts, the most recent generation of salts, combine a protein hydrolyzate (rice for example) with magnesium and thus guarantee better assimilation and good tolerance.

Most of magnesium is absorbed from the intestine. This enters the enterocyte (intestinal cell) through specific channels that are easily saturated. Amino-complexed salts, on the other hand, use the amino acid absorption pathway which is active and predominant, and therefore more efficient.

In addition, vitamin B6 promotes the entry of magnesium into the cell. Taurine, meanwhile, maintenance in the cell: we speak of the “power” magneso-fixing “vitamin B6 and taurine. 98% of the body’s magnesium is found in cells, which is why it is important to fix it properly.

The presence of vitamin B6 and taurine in the nutritional composition of the food supplement is therefore essential.

We will not talk here about other sleep disorders (idiopathic hypersomnias, narcolepsy, parasomnias, night terrors, sleepwalking, etc.), these require specialized medical care.

Naturopathe – Aromathérapeute / Herboriste – Phytothérapeute
Consultante en phyto-aromathérapie Clinique et Ethnomédecine

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