Everyone has bouts of insomnia now and then, but when it becomes chronic it can devastate your health and happiness. Since it has noticeable effects on energy, cognitive function and mood we address it with vigor. Most sufferers start with herbs known to have sedative effects like valerian, lemon balm, California poppy and passionflower. These herbs work great for occasional problems but often leave chronic sufferers disappointed. Addressing the circadian rhythm, sleep hygiene, stress and diet can also help many occasional sufferers. When all these approaches do not relieve insomnia, many turn to the big guns, pharmaceutical drugs. These can work but do not address the underlying cause, have side effects and can be addicting, which then requires long term use.
Addressing the underlying cause is essential if you are seeking a cure. The problem lies in finding the cause, or causes. There is often more than one. Here are some avenues to explore in your quest for a cure.
Heavy metal toxicity: In this day and age we can not avoid exposure to these poisons. They are in our food, water, personal care products, pharmaceuticals and the air we breath. One very common exposure is mercury amalgams, the “silver” fillings in our teeth. Mercury is the most toxic substance we know and its in our mouths! Also, the aluminum in our deodorant, lead in paint, jewelry, batteries, pipes and water, cadmium in cigarette smoke and plastics to name a few. These metals poison our bodies and brains, leaving us with severe and unexplained symptoms.
Parasites: These creatures are most active early in the morning such as 2 to 4am. This activity can be disturbing. They also produce toxins that leak into the blood stream and contribute to insomnia.
Histamine: The histaminergic system is located in the hypothalamus and exerts its effects on all major regions of the central nervous system. Histamine is the highest in the morning again around 2 to 4 am. Many people have trouble breaking down histamine and so have amplified effects. These effects can range from anxiety and depression to severe insomnia. An inability to break down histamine properly and food allergies and sensitivities can be the culprits for many.
Blood sugar fluctuations: Those who suffer from pre-diabetes, diabetes or blood sugar regulation problems know all too well the side effects that these issues cause. However, we tend to overlook their effects on sleep. A drop in blood sugar at night can wake us like a shot. Stabilizing blood sugar will work wonders to improve insomnia as well as overall health and wellness.
EMF Exposure: Studies show that exposures to EMFs can impede the production of melatonin and affect the body’s circadian rhythm. EMF exposures in the bedroom can undermine sleep cycles and cause many ailments and symptoms including insomnia.
Adrenal Fatigue: There is an inextricable connection between insomnia and Adrenal Fatigue. Waking every few hours, trouble falling asleep and finding you are wide awake at 3 am can all be signs that your adrenals are struggling. Our normal circadian rhythm is ultimately defined by the levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol. Normally, cortisol levels should rise in the early morning, giving us the energy to wake and tackle our day. Cortisol levels will then gradually decline throughout the day, ending at their lowest levels late in the evening when we’re ready to ease into bed, go to sleep, and recover. When there is an imbalance in cortisol levels, as there is in Adrenal Fatigue, our circadian rhythm shifts so that we have daytime cortisol levels at night and nighttime cortisol levels during the day. This is what contributes to the pattern of sluggish morning energy and the excessive evening energy. Assess and fix the adrenals, and the normal sleep/wake cycle fall into place. Once your sleep/wake cycle is corrected, your whole body begins to heal.
Circadian Rhythm: Our natural circadian rhythm can be thrown off by our modern lifestyle. Shunning natural sunlight and dousing ourselves with artificial blue light in the evening can be devastating to our natural rhythm and sleep.
Neurotransmitter imbalance: Brain chemicals are used to stimulate or calm your state of mind — if they are out of balance, you might be unable to sleep soundly. Serotonin and GABA need to be adequately high to induce a state of rest, while dopamine, glutamate and adrenaline must be sufficiently low. Inflammation and hormone levels are usually to blame for neurotransmitter fluctuations; these problems can be corrected with exercise and a real food diet.
Food sensitivities: The gut and brain are intimately connected, so eating foods that irritate your digestive system is a sure way to lose sleep. Gluten is particularly dangerous since it affects blood flow to the brain. Have a holistic healthcare practitioner complete IgG and IgA panels. These tests will determine which foods cause inflammatory reactions in your body. Cutting out problem foods can improve sleep quantity and quality. Taking a sleeping pill to DRUG us to sleep is not the answer. If your insomnia is long term and chronic, get tested and get proper treatment.
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