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Although it is easy to recognise insomnia when it is experienced, definitions vary depending on whether one consults the scientific literature or the general press. Most often, insomnia is defined by difficulty falling asleep. In this case, answering “yes” to the question “do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep” is sufficient to characterise insomnia.

For sleep scientists, the above definition is not sufficient to accurately characterise the profile of insomnia. It is therefore complemented by a series of disorders that help to draw a precise portrait of the insomniac:

Difficulty falling asleep despite appropriate circumstances.

Prolonged periods of wakefulness during sleep, or even frequent transient wakefulness.
Impairment or distress during the day.

Occurs at least three times a week and has been a problem for at least a month.
Insomnia may not have an underlying medical cause. Known as primary insomnia, this type of disorder is not caused by any specific health problem, but has many negative consequences. On the other hand, there is symptomatic insomnia caused by the individual’s state of health: this is secondary insomnia. It can be caused by various diseases: asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, pain or medication.

When this condition becomes chronic over time, it can affect memory and concentration and increase the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer, according to the World Sleep Society.

The Sleep Foundation also points out that “headaches are a secondary symptom of a sleep disorder”, which is another direct consequence of insomnia and affects daily well-being.

On the other hand, there are studies that link lack of rest with greater oxidation, metabolic problems and cognitive deterioration. In short: when the body’s basic needs are not met, it starts to become maladjusted.


Among the numerous active substances present in certain mushrooms, several have been studied for their potential benefits on sleep. Although more clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects, several promising avenues are emerging. Among the most studied mushrooms are Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) and Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis).

Reishi mushroom, for example, is often used to help people relax and fall asleep. Many products, such as herbal teas and food supplements, contain it. Studies in animal models have shown that Reishi extracts can help people fall asleep more quickly, prolong the duration of sleep and promote a period of deep sleep. It can also act on delta wave activity, which is associated with the deep sleep phase.

Sleep is much more than just a requirement for health, performance and well-being: it is truly essential! When insomnia attacks you head-on, it is important to find a solution quickly.

When they are the result of pathologies, it is advisable to consult a doctor. However, for occasional and mild sleep problems, you can put the above recommendations into practice.

In addition to exercise and sports, adopting optimal sleep hygiene is a good starting point. This involves keeping a regular sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol, caffeine or nicotine before bedtime, and creating darkness in the bedroom to encourage the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin.

In some cases, taking a supplement can also provide substances that promote balance. Animal studies have shown a reduction in the time it takes to fall asleep and an increase in the duration of sleep. However, this effect has not yet been fully demonstrated in humans and further research is needed.

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