Insomnia, it’s becoming a big problem in today’s modern world. Otherwise, having an occasional bad night’s sleep is normal and I think we have all experienced that at one time or another.
Insomnia is a whole different thing, just ask someone who can’t sleep. Night after night it goes on.
Lack of a good night’s sleep is extremely detrimental for our health. Tissue repair, mental processing, dreaming, hormone production and even detoxification occur at night while we sleep. So, sleep is actually very productive when it comes to our body.
Family life and work life can suffer as we feel unproductive from mental fogginess, lack of concentration, headaches, weight gain and plain old fatigue that has us looking for a nap. By the way, naps are ok. Keep them to less than 30 minutes.
For these reasons alone, a good night’s sleep should always be a priority. It amazes me however, that many people don’t consider sleep important, they just ‘push through the fatigue’. Much to their detriment.
Personally, I can’t relate since I’ve always appreciated a good night’s sleep. Anyone else?
Aside from the obvious sleep environment, (dark room, comfortable bed, silence, cool temperature and the not so obvious, lack of electronics), getting a night’s sleep on average days can be challenging even though we think we are doing everything right.
If you fall asleep and then wake up a few hours later only to lie there staring at the ceiling, it is usually related to what you ate or drink. Maybe a stimulant like coffee or alcohol or even a heavy meal like pizza and wings can be enough to effect our sleep.
I have found through the years that when a person has hypoglycemia (blood sugar drops) during the night, they will wake up and be unable to fall back asleep. Many times, just the right nutrient support can fix this issue.
Let’s talk about hormones that effect our sleep. Serotonin is our ‘chill out’ and is a bit of a happy hormone. It is made in our body from the Amino Acid Tryptophan which is found in protein foods like dairy and meats.
Serotonin, since it is calming, allows us to slow down for a good night’s sleep. It is then turned into Melatonin during a proper sleep cycle. I say proper since an improper sleep cycle will cause us to make very little Melatonin.
Melatonin is very important for mood, cancer prevention, weight loss and it keeps our body tuned to it’s natural cycles.
Serotonin, it is important to note, is made primarily in the gut or digestive system, not the brain.
It would seem to be logical then, that a dysfunctional digestive tract can cause low Serotonin levels effecting mood and sleep patterns. It leads to the saying, ‘I feel it in the gut’.
This is why when working with someone that has sleeping difficulties, anxiety or depression and fatigue, I look into their digestion as well as diet, first.
As we age, we produce less Serotonin due to digestive changes and diet. Supplementation of the nutrients that aid digestion and nutritional counseling can be a great aid to better sleep.
From a functional standpoint, many nutrients come into play for digestion, hormone production and metabolism of our food. Vitamin B, zinc, magnesium as well as chromium and vanadium all play a part.
A good night’s sleep will benefit our mood, weight, energy, hormones and mental vitality.
Functional Medicine speaking, there are biochemical markers both in urine and in blood to check whether or not a person is Vitamin B deficient and whether they are producing enough hormones that are involved in sleep and mood.
There are always ways to investigate what is going on with a person so that we can uncover the true cause of things like Insomnia. Don’t let this important aspect of sleep interfere with your life and happiness.
A good sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Learn to enjoy it again.