Insomnia Overview:

Insomnia is defined as any difficulty initiating, or maintaining sleep. Most people will not seek help for their insomnia until it has become a chronic problem. These people will usually present with other symptoms, such as exhaustion, poor cognitive performance, irritability, and lower quality of life.

There are several categorisations of insomnia, starting with primary (such as anxiety) and secondary (such as alcohol or drugs). It can be hard to differentiate between the two, making it important to consider and attempt to remove any possible causes.

Further classification can break it down according to the specific difficulty the patient is experiencing. This includes:

  1. sleep-onset insomnia (patient has difficulty initiating sleep),
  2. Sleep maintenance insomnia (awakened during the night and find difficulty falling back asleep)
  3. Sleep-Offset insomnia (waking very early in the morning)
  4. Non-restorative sleep (feeling tired and unrestored upon waking)



There can be many causes for insomnia, including anxiety, drugs or alcohol, sleep apnoea, pain or discomfort, caffeine, depression, restless leg syndrome, and environments not condusive to sleep (loud and/or bright). 

+ Sleep Onset Insomnia

  • Difficulty initiating sleep.

+ Sleep Maintenance Insomnia

  • Frequent waking in the night.

+ Non-resotrative Sleep

  • Waking unrefreshed or tired.


Feeling tired and unrestored upon waking

Difficulty falling or staying asleep



Poor cognitive function


Dry mouth upon waking


Diagnostic Considerations


Therapeutic Aims:

1. Acertain Any Causitive Factors

Such as prostate function, pain, depression, sleep apnea, etc.

  • The action will be specific to the determined causes.

2. Aid In Sleep Initiation

Hypnotics and sedatives

3. Support The Sleeping Process And Natural Circadian Rhythm

Taken throughout the day to restore healthy circadian rhythm.

4. If Debilitated And Suffering Sleep-Maintenance Insomnia, Adrenal Tonics May Be Indicated

Among a few goals, blood sugar levels need to be stabilised throughout the night.


Differential Diagnosis:

Other conditions may be present, either as a result of insomnia-induced exhaustion, or may be a causative factor. Fibromyalgia, depression, generalised anxiety disorder, restless leg syndrome, adrenal dysregulation, and diabetes are all considerations. 


Herbs For Insomnia:

  • Valerian
  • Skullcap

Sleep Onset:

  • Valerian
  • Kava
  • Zizyphus
  • Hops
  • Lemon balm
  • Magnolia
  • Lavender
  • Passionflower
  • California Poppy
  • Chamomile

Sleep Maintenance Herbs

  • St John’s wort, Saffron, Skullcap,
    Damiana, Rhodiola and Schisandra

Formula For Insomnia:

Sleep-Onset Insomnia

Herb Name Ratio Amount in mL
Valeriana officinalis 1:2 30 mL
Passiflora incarnata 1:2 25 mL
Zizyphus spinosa 1:2 25 mL
Withania somnifera 1:2 25 mL
Total 105 mL

Related Conditions:


Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: April 2018

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