03 Sep What You Need to Know About Insomnia.
Why can’t I sleep?
Problems with sleep such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is known as insomnia.
There are multiple causes of insomnia. These include stress, hormone imbalance, mood imbalance, transitioning into menopause, poor nutrition, overuse of stimulants, poor sleep hygiene, shift work, and breathing difficulties.
Common fixes for insomnia are prescription medications such as antidepressants and sleeping tablets which are addictive but don’t fix the true cause of your sleeplessness. They work initially but then a lot of people take higher than the prescribed dose as a last measure to induce sleep which leads to side effects and carries many other risks.
Without balancing the underlying cause of insomnia it continues on with many suffering unnecessary for years resulting in a poorer quality of life.
How can a naturopath assist someone with insomnia?
As well as balancing underlying deficiencies some simple tests can be carried out to ascertain the cause of insomnia.
Sleep hormone profile test: one of the causes of insomnia is an imbalance of cortisol and melatonin, which are specific sleep hormones. Melatonin is needed to regulate circadian rhythm and sleep wake cycles. If melatonin is low and cortisol is elevated the result is disrupted sleep and inability to obtain REM sleep, which is your deep sleep when restoration and healing occur.
Cortisol should be at its highest in the morning and lowest at night when you are winding down to sleep. If you are stressed or a shift worker cortisol levels will stay high and suppress melatonin altering the sleep cycle.
If mood is low this can indicate low serotonin, which is the precursors to melatonin. Correcting serotonin levels is crucial to balance melatonin. A more in-depth test which can check not only serotonin pathways but also how your body is producing energy is an organic acid test.
If insomnia has only occurred since transitioning into menopause then salivary hormone testing is a great way to see what is occurring with oestrogen and progesterone levels. Progesterone promotes sleep so if progesterone levels have dropped dramatically supporting progesterone can also promote healthy sleep as well as balancing hot flushes and calming anxiety, which can also trend during this phase.
There are many causes of insomnia. Find yours and you’ll be one step closer to regaining deep and restful sleep.