Insomnia

Insomnia is known as difficulty in falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia) and/or frequent or early awakening (sleep maintenance insomnia)

Causes
Psychological factors such as depression and anxiety account for 50% of all cases of insomnia. Eliminating factors that can impair sleep quality is another important consideration in treating insomnia.

Things that can interfere with sleep include
  • Alcohol
  • Medications
  • Caffeine
  • Marijuana
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Thyroid complications
  • Worrying/anxiety
Therapeutic considerations
Adequate sleep is absolutely necessary for long-term health and regeneration. Chronic sleep deprivation appears to accelerate ageing of the brain, causing neuronal damage and lead to nighttime elevations of cortisol. 

  1. Avoidance of stimulants (caffeine) - Each person is different in their ability to metabolise caffeine. Depending on the genetic variation in the liver enzyme that breaks down caffeine some people can eliminate caffeine very quickly while others breakdown the process much less effective. Anyone who is struggling with sleep should avoid caffeine for 7-10 days (this includes all sources of caffeine such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and drugs containing caffeine - energy drinks)
  2. Exercise - regular exercise is known to promote improvements in sleep quality. Exercise should take place in the morning not before bed time and should be of moderate intensity. 
  3. Relaxation - there are a number of techniques that can promote relaxation and prepare the body and mind for sleep. This could include yoga, breathing, mediation, reading.
  4. Glucose Levels - Dips in blood glucose levels during the night may be an important cause of sleep maintenance insomnia. The brain is highly dependent on glucose levels for energy and a quick drop in blood sugar levels stimulates the release of adrenaline and cortisol which promotes an awakening. 
  5. Serotonin - Serotonin is an important initiator of sleep. The synthesis depends on the availability of the amino acid Tryptophan. The supplementation of L-tryptophan has been show to effects in the treatment of insomnia. Results show that supplementation is more effective in sleep onset insomnia and less effective in sleep maintenance insomnia. Important co -factors such as Vitamin B6, Niacin, and magnesium should be administered alongside tryptophan to ensure conversion of serotonin.
  6. Diet - Eat a wide variety of rainbow fruit & veg - reduce exposure to pesticides - Eat slow releasing carbohydrates for blood sugar control - reduce animal produce and processed foods - include healthy fats - drink lots of water

Nutritional lifestyle adjustments
  • Avoid midday naps
  • Increase activity with regular exercise 
  • Darken the room by drawing curtains
  • Reducing any light entering the room as excess light at night will reduce melatonin production
  • Treat underlying cause - depression, phobias, fear, obsessive thoughts
  • Maintain neurotransmitter levels - with nutritional precursors and co-factors (B6, Niacin, Magnesium, Zinc)
  • Avoid any dietary stimulants after mid-afternoon
  • Also avoid heavy meals late at night
  • Relaxation techniques- deep breathing exercises, relaxation tapes, reading, journal writing
  • Ensure that bedding, pillows and mattress are comfortable - Overheating due to unnatural fibres can cause waking during the night
  • Remove any excess sources of electro-magnetic radiation from the bedroom - switch Wi-Fi off at night.
If you or someone you know is suffering with Insomnia, try eliminating potential stimulants and adopting some of the nutritional recommendations, and please feel free to send me a message if you would like additional support. 

Love H x