No, I’m not talking about the 2002 thriller starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. That was quite good actually. I’m talking about the real life, common problem of struggling to get some good quality z’s. Let’s take a look at some causes, and some relief from insomnia…
It will come as no surprise that stress is often at the root of insomnia. However, stress is not always bad, but what matters is how we deal with it. For example, a new project at work can be intensive and exciting especially if you are passionate about what you do. This can cause a stress response in the brain, and can cause many sleepless nights. As someone who has suffered from chronic insomnia, I can attest that mine often came from over excitement which lead to not being able to switch off. Learning to manage that stress became important in dealing with the underlying cause. On the opposite side of the coin, lies a much more frustrating symptom. Worrying about school, work, bills, family etc can be a lot harder to shake and always needs some sought of treatment plan.
Some treatments that can help stress related insomnia include:
- Alphabiotic Alignments. This reset of the nervous system lowers adrenal stress and brings a calming effect allowing for a better nights sleep.
- Accupuncture. Bringing balance to the meridians calms the brain and has helped people find a better sleep pattern.
- Massage. Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? A little pampering is important in these times of stress.
- Reiki. If you are not a fan of needles then give reiki a try.
- Meditation. This one is free and can done daily. A 10 minute session every night before bed will go a long way towards a better night sleep.
- A hot bath with epsom salts an hour before bed can be just what the doctor ordered. The magnesium helps to relax the muscles and calm the brain. Doing your meditation in the bath will bring even better results especially when the lights are off and a candle is lit.
The above suggestions will help anyone deal with their insomnia but for some it’s not enough. I’m talking about a melatonin imbalance. The pineal gland drives your sleep patterns and a lack of melatonin production from the pineal will not only cause sleepless nights, but drive up your morning cortisol levels, creating an imbalance on all other hormones in the cascade.
Let me explain. Low melatonin creates a poor sleep cycle even if you are not suffering from insomnia. You will however, notice fatigue or low energy and feel a need for a jump start in the morning. Most people grab for caffeine at this point or they struggle to make it through the day. Caffeine then puts further stress on your adrenals as well as your brain.
Stressed adrenals also cause an imbalance in another vital hormone called DHEA. DHEA leads to the production of androgens and estrogens (male and female sex hormones). So you see how the entire cascade of hormones become affected. Being that I focus on bio-identical hormones in my office, I make sure that not only do the numbers come back within range but most importantly the ratio between all the hormones. The reason why I jumped a little deeper into hormones other than melatonin, is because when they out of balance, bed time becomes a stress as apposed to a healing cycle.
Finding the right melatonin supplement can be a challenge, so stick to a sublingual form. Tincture or powdered dissolving tablets will do the job. I usually recommend a slow release so that it helps you stay asleep. One tip I will leave you with, is to only take it for a month at a time or your brain will get lazy and rely on you to feed it. Take it for 30 days and then if you don’t feel any change then you’ll want to do a full stress profile test to see if your cortisol levels are high at night. If this is the case then that will need to be dealt with separately.