Can’t Sleep? You’re Not Alone:
Over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and wakefulness, and 1 out of 3 people have insomnia at some point in their lives. Sleep problems add an estimated $15.9 billion to national health care costs.
If you are reading this, there is a very good chance you have or will experience sleep problems at some point in your life.
Medications Are Not the Answer:
Unfortunately, many who struggle to sleep well, will turn to prescription sleep medications. Prescription medications are not the answer, as these drugs can be habit forming and do not solve the underlying cause of your sleep disturbance. These medications can also come with many side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety & depression, headaches, and decreased libido.
Here are 7 things you should pay close attention to when trying to achieve better sleep:
1. Low Norepinephrine & High Cortisol:
During the dark hours of the night, your body produces a hormone called norepinephrine, which in turn tells the brain to make melatonin. Optimal levels of melatonin production are important for optimal sleep. However, there are several things that can interfere with norepinephrine, and the subsequent production of melatonin, including:
Darkness is needed for norepinephrine release and for melatonin production, so keep your room as dark as you can make it when you go to bed. Melatonin supplementation can also be used as a natural sleep aid.
Being Mentally Over-Stimulated before bed, including worrying, or anything that engages strong emotions. Don’t watch or read anything that may overstimulate your emotions before bedtime. Try meditation or relaxing breathing techniques before bedtime instead.
Excess Cortisol Production, a chemical tied to stress, will also inhibit the release of norepinephrine and the production of melatonin. If you have high corisol levels in the evening (when it should be low) you will have difficulty sleeping. Ideally your cortisol should rise quickly in the morning and peak within the first few hours of being awake and then slowly taper down through the day until it reaches, what should be, its lowest point at bedtime. This rise an fall of cortisol is called your diurnal rhythm. The way to properly test your cortisol is though a saliva test that you take 4 times throughout the day. You can actually buy a cortisol test kit online and take it from the comfort of your home.
Eating Later at Night can have an effect on your blood sugar and cause a blood sugar crash in during sleep. When blood sugar crashes in the middle of the night, cortisol levels rise, and melatonin production diminishes.
2. Low GABA & Serotonin Levels:
One reason why people with insomnia struggle to fall asleep may be low GABA levels. Research published in the journal Sleep found average brain GABA levels were nearly 30 percent lower in people with insomnia. People with lower levels of GABA were also more likely to wake after falling asleep.
Low serotonin levels can result in sleep disruption and sleep disorders, including insomnia. Stress is a common cause of low serotonin levels and can also lead to depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue. Eating foods high in tryptophan, regular exercise, and practicing mindfulness and yoga can help to support healthy levels of serotonin.
Probably the most amazing natural sleep product I have found is a supplement called Kavinase Ultra PM by a company called NeuroScience. This product is formulated to support normal, healthy GABA, serotonin and melatonin levels to help you relax, fall asleep and stay asleep comfortably. If your body is in need of GABA, Serotonin support this product may be exactly what you need. It is one of the most popular supplements for my patients. You need to give it a try!
3. Sex Hormonal Imbalance:
Progesterone Deficiency (AKA Estrogen Dominance)
Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. One of the main reasons for this is a common condition called Estrogen Dominance, whereby a woman is not producing enough progesterone to balance out her estrogen. Progesterone is critical for proper sleep. In fact, when most women balance their hormones with bio-identical progesterone, one of the first things they notice is that they are able to sleep so much better! To Find out if you may have Estrogen Dominance, take our free hormone quiz.
Low Testosterone in Men
Low testosterone can have a dramatic effect on sleep quality in men. In fact, Men over the age of 50 are the largest group of men reporting sleep disturbances. To make matters worse, the more difficulty a man has sleeping, the more rapidly his testosterone will drop…it is a vicious cycle. By using bio-identical testosterone in men, they can enjoy better sleep, in addition to improved energy, mood, libido, and drive! To Find out if you may have Low Testosterone, take our free hormone quiz.
4. Beneficial Herbs for Sleep:
Magnolia Officinalis Bark
Researchers have determined that two chemicals found in Magnolia Bark, are up to 1000 times more potent than Vitamin E in antioxidant activity, and are thought to contribute to the primary anti-stress and cortisol-balancing effects of the plant. It was also found to be five times stronger than diazepam in reducing anxiety, but without any of the side effects of diazepam.
Ziziphus Spinosa Seed
Has been grown and used in China for more than 3000 years. One of the most common uses of ziziphus both traditionally and today is as a sedative. Numerous studies have isolated substances called jujubosides from ziziphus as being one of the most important reasons for its sleep-inducing effect.
A recent study by University of Pennsylvania researchers found that chamomile significantly reduces the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Chamomiles sedative effects are due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.
The Peruvians used the flower in the 17th century as a sedative. Once it spread to Europe, it was used to treat restlessness and agitation. Today, it’s commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia. It works by helping to boost the brain’s levels of a chemical called GABA, which relaxes your brain activity.
has been used as a relaxant since the Middle Ages. A 2003 study in the journal of Neuropsychopharmolocology found that lemon balm encourages sleep by improving mood and inducing mental calmness. Lemon balm can be called a nootropic, or a brain-enhancing supplement, as it can improve cognitive performance too.
5. Exercise Regularly:
Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise can help you sleep. Some studies have shown improved sleep in as high as 83% of test participants, and more than half of those who exercised moderately or vigorously said they slept better on workout days than non-workout days.
How late it too late to exercise?
It is advisable to let your heartbeat return to its resting rate, your body temperature return to normal, and your adrenaline to levels to stabilize. Usually 2 hours is sufficient for most people for this to happen. Even though there are discrepancies in the scientific literature about the best time of day to work out, most experts will agree that the best time for YOU to exercise is when you will do it consistently! Exercise any time is more beneficial than none at all.
6. Avoid Eating Late:
Research has found that the digestive process can have serious implications on your sleep cycle, causing you to wake up more often, and have a harder time falling asleep in the first place. One of the worst foods that you can eat if you have a hard time falling asleep at night are sugary foods, in addition to the other obvious health issues such as weight gain. Eating late can also raise your cortisol levels and hinder the release of melatonin (as discussed above).
7. Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies:
There are several vitamins and minerals, that when low, can have a negative impact on your sleep. Here are some of the more important ones:
- Vitamin D
- Inositol (Vitamin B8)
Testing for deficiencies is a great way to customize your supplementation plan according to your body’s specific needs. Spectracell Micro-nutrient testing is a service that we offer at the Dr. Shel Wellness & Medical Spa.
How May We Help You?
As always, my team and I are here to help you in any way we can. If you are having trouble sleeping, please feel free to contact us for a Free Consultation. We would love to help you identify the root causes of your symptoms and help you achieve wellness and great sleep naturally. To Request a Free Consultation at the Dr. Shel Wellness & Medical Spa, simply call us at (281) 313-7435 or fill out an Online Consultation Request.