Insomnia - Here's How You Can Sleep Better
“Don’t lose sleep over it”. How many times have you heard that phrase? Yeah, we’ve all had incidents in life that cause enough emotional upheaval that we can’t fall asleep or we toss and turn in the middle of the night.
That’s incidental sleeplessness and it may be built into our genetic code to protect us if there is a dangerous situation during sleep hours. So on occasion sleeplessness is just fine.
It’s when you lose sleep on a regular basis that you’re experiencing insomnia. IF YOU HAVE INSOMNIA IT’S TIME TO START ASKING QUESTIONS and figure out how you can get a full night of sleep.
As much as 50% of the US adult population experience insomnia. There are 3 BASIC TYPES of insomnia: trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking
too early, or any combination of the three.
Aside from just feeling frustrated and tired insomnia can lead to a whole host of health issues or make your current health issues worse.
BUT THERE IS A LOT YOU CAN DO to stop the vicious cycle. I’ll share with you how you can stop it later. First, let’s understand a little more about the dangers
and causes of insomnia.
Many diseases and disorders are linked to insomnia. These aren’t necessarily caused just by insomnia but insomnia can play a major role in creating the conditions
for these to develop.
- high blood pressure
- heart attacks
- depression and anxiety
- decreased brain function
- memory loss
- weakened immune system
- lower fertility rates
- psychiatric disorders
The MOST COMMON CAUSES of insomnia I see in my clinic are high-stress lifestyles and the overuse of caffeine. I also see it a lot in women going through
menopause who aren’t sleeping well. Sometimes it’s a combination of all 3.
In menopausal women, night sweats alone can cause sleep disturbances but there is evidence that the natural decline in estrogen and progesterone can contribute
Anxiety and depression can be part of the menopause experience and there is a clear link between chronic mood conditions and insomnia.
is a hormone that gives you energy. Your body should be secreting the highest amount when you wake up and the smallest amount at bedtime.
Hormones interact with other hormones and bodily tissues so that your body’s systems run smoothly. If you’re oversecreting cortisol you are not just messing with cortisol levels but you’re messing with all the other hormones and tissues that cortisol communicates with.
It seems to be common knowledge that prolonged high stress increases cortisol levels in your body. You might have guessed by now that ELEVATED CORTISOL
LEVELS LEADS TO INSOMNIA.
But when you’ve had high stress for months and years, you might still experience insomnia even after the stress level reduces. This is because your hormonal
balance has already been affected.
When this happens your body has made the hormonal imbalance the new normal. Sounds scary but IT IS TOTALLY POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO RECOVER a healthy sleep cycle.
Regarding caffeine, yes it is a short-term fix for low energy but when we become dependent on it, it actually makes insomnia worse.
You see CAFFEINE STIMULATES YOUR ADRENALS to secrete more cortisol hormone than normal.
So if you’re consuming caffeine in the afternoon when cortisol should be naturally declining, you are quite likely creating a hormonal imbalance not causing insomnia.
And you may also be creating imbalances with other hormones such as insulin and even sex hormones. Caffeine is powerful stuff.
Here’s a partial list of things that cause insomnia:
- eating too late in the evening
- high sugar diet
- hormonal imbalance
- lack of consistent bedtime
- high stress/anxiety
- sleep apnea
- physical pain
- acid reflux
- some pharmaceutical and recreational drugs
- excessive alcohol
- excessive caffeine
- restless legs syndrome
- lack of exercise
Insomnia and hormonal imbalance can be a “chicken and egg” problem. Which came first? The more complicated cases of insomnia are related to hormonal imbalances. Interestingly hormonal imbalances can be caused by some of the aforementioned habits but insomnia alone can cause hormonal imbalance.
As you can see here it’s pretty easy to get a vicious cycle going.
What you can do? YOU CAN DO A LOT.
If you have sleep apnea or chronic pain, the answers to those problems are pretty straightforward. Find somebody with the right skill set and tools to make the problem pain go away or control the apnea.
It’s probably hormonal if there doesn’t seem to be an obvious cause. In that case, HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO.
Most of what you can do for yourself is based on RESTORING A NATURAL CIRCADIAN RYTHM. You’ll get your hormonal balance back in synch with the normal 24-hour cycle.
All of these things listed below help to rebalance your hormones including cortisol, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, serotonin, and melatonin. JUST CHOOSE 3-4 OF THESE ACTIONS that apply best to your situation.
- Go to sleep at 10 at the latest (lights out and eyes closed)
- Shoot for 8-9 hours of sleep.
- When you get up in the morning expose your eyes to UV light outside as soon as possible.
- Stop eating at 7pm. Yes, that includes dessert!
- Get at least 20 minutes of exercise daily. Keep this simple. Don’t work out intensely every day.
- Meditate for 10+ minutes before going to bed.
- Keep coffee and tea down to one cup per day. None in the afternoon.
- Keep alcohol consumption minimal. None or just a couple of times per week.
- If you consume alcohol of any type be done with it by 7pm.
- 25-50 deep breaths before you go to sleep.
- Stop looking at any screens (phone, computer, TV) one hour before bed.
- Avoid stressful media of all types. News, intense movies, negative social media.
- If you have a high carbohydrate or high sugar diet make the shift to more protein and vegetables.
- Hydrate. Shoot for 2.5-3 liters of water per day.
- Finally, if this applies to you, address that intensely negative or worrisome thing you’ve been avoiding.
There’s actually a lot more you can do for yourself depending on your particular situation. If your combination of self-care isn’t doing the trick, acupuncture, and nutritional supplements will help you make the shift back to better sleep.
So just CHOOSE 3-4 SELF-CARE ACTIONS listed above, learn more about how to do them effectively, and just start. It takes some discipline but you know it’s worth it.
As always, I’m truly grateful to you for letting me help. I’m always here for you and your loved ones.
Initial consultations are always free of charge. New patients meet with me in person (or via video conference if preferred) to discuss their wellness goals and see if our services are a good fit. Click here to request a free consultation if you’re a new patient. For current patients Click here to schedule your next visit