Thief in the Night- part 2
Getting to the Causes of Insomnia
Screen time and bed time don’t mix
If you tell yourself, “I’m not tire. I’ll just watch one more episode.” You are right! The brightness of your TV and phone screens can confuse your brain into thinking it is still daytime. Studies show your brain produce less melatonin, the sleep hormone, when exposed to excessive light and also to electromagnetic radiation (digital clock, cell phone, computer). So for a good night sleep, turn of your devices early, read a book by an incandescent light source. For best result, dim interior lights after dinner and don’t sleep with a phone or digital clock next to your bed.
Anxiety has many manifestations
Do you have difficulty falling asleep because of your mind just won’t stop thinking? Are you easily woken by sound and movement? You brain may be experiencing some form of anxiety. Even if there is no external signs of anxiety, you brain may still behave “anxiously” as it process all the events of the day. The same nutritional supplements I have used to help people who suffer from obvious clinical anxiety also happens to treat this specific type of insomnia. Other habits that are beneficial include keeping a journal and a to do list by bed side.
Hormones play a part too
Hormone deficiency and/or imbalance is a common cause of insomnia in women who are postmenopausal, postpartum, and premenstrual. The common link between all 3 groups of women is the relatively low level or lack of progesterone. Post menopausal women will frequently experience immediate improvement of their sleep with a low dose of bio-identical progesterone
Anyone who has kids knows that the best way to get your kids to nap/sleep is to tire them out. Same is true for adults who go to the gym 2 or more times per week. Physical activity during the day will ensure you get a sound night of sleep, not just from physical fatigue, but from elevated production of all your feel good hormones.
Night time exercise, however, may bring to much energy, so if you must exercise at night, stretching and yoga are better. Stretching and yoga will loosen your muscles and convince your brain you are relaxed and ready for bed through biofeedback loop.
Stable blood sugar keeps the brain happy
Too much circulating blood sugar can be to stimulating to the brain. Coffee is a stimulant because it is able to release large quantity of stored sugar into your blood stream all at once. So late night desserts or wine with dinner may be the reason you cannot get a sound night of sleep. Alcohol also inhibits the sleep center of your brain, preventing you from falling asleep, even though you feel relaxed. Oddly, too little sugar is also bad for sleep. Your brain requires a steady level of blood sugar to function, so if you are dinner is too early, trying out ketogenic diet, weight training, or just controlling your carb intake, your brain can be waking you up each night just to get some food.
Managing chronic pain makes sleep easier to achieve
Anti-inflammatories like curcumin, fish oil, as well as muscle relaxants like calcium, magnesium can be very beneficial for individuals who cannot sleep due to chronic pain. These can be used alone, or in combination with over the counter anti-inflammatories.
Reset your circadian rhythm to help your brain get into sleep mode
Spending time outside 1/2 hr each day is a great way to get a good night sleep. Exposing your retina and brain to unfiltered sunlight resets your circadian rhythm so your brain knows when to stay awake and when to sleep.
Reducing those night time bathroom trips
Avoid excessive amount of beverage before bed is always a good way to reduce night time trips to the bathroom. But sometimes, those trips to the washroom are the result of foods sensitivity causing irritation to the bladder. By determining your food sensitivity, you may be able to get a sounder night of sleep. Prostate enlargement is another well know cause of night time urination. Prostate size can be reduced by through herbs, reducing alcohol consumption, and liver detoxification.
Nutrients for sleep
Calcium and magnesium are excellent for muscle relaxation to ease into sleep. If you are finding yourself tense on waking, you could benefit from these minerals. B12 and iron has been found to be useful for restless leg syndrome as well. But don’t just supplement, find out why you are low on these nutrients. Are there dietary changes to be made? Perhaps you are not able to absorb all the nutrients you are ingesting?