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Mount prospect Insomnia treatment
We live in a world where most people just can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep anymore. Doctors write more prescriptions for Insomnia than ever and it’s getting worse. As the commercials on television tell us, there are very serious side effects with these medications so let’s consider a more natural alternative.
Insomnia - What causes it & how to treat it
Dealing with Insomnia - Guidelines to help you sleep
When I ask a patient how well they sleep and they tell me “great”; my second question is; do you wake up with energy? Most of them say “NO”. This tells me all they really did was keep their eyes closed in a dark room for eight hours but did NOT get the deep restorative sleep they needed. We sleep to recharge our batteries for the new day. Starting the day without energy is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. Lack of energy (fatigue) is a warning sign and if you are like most Americans, you don’t have much of it and really don’t know what to do about. I wonder sometimes how the world would function without caffeine because that is the engine that most Americans rely upon to get them through their day.
Let’s backtrack to where the sleep cycle begins. It all starts with “Sleep Onset” (falling asleep). It’s been another long stressful day and you can’t wait to go to sleep. Unfortunately, something went wrong today and you lay there ruminating about this new stress. Things like a job loss, fear, work over load, a bad relationship, loneliness, anger, anxiety, frustration, etc are primary stressors. These emotions activate the stress response and your adrenals produce too much cortisol and that sets everything else in motion. Cortisol is the long term “fight or flight” hormone and it gets directly in the way of you drifting off to deep Level 4 sleep. So you lay there for hours until you finally drift off out of exhaustion. Too much caffeine, loud noises, light, elevated room temperature, blood sugar imbalances also contribute to insomnia but it’s your brain chemistry that causes most chronic insomnia.
The second phase is called “Sleep Maintenance” (staying asleep). Now that you have fallen asleep, sometime during the night you wake up and can’t get back to sleep. A condition called “nocturnal hypoglycemia” simply means your brain has woken you up because it needs blood sugar (glucose) to function. Your last meal just ran out or you ate the wrong meal and you need to restore (homeostasis) i.e. glucose levels. If you are in a state of stress; your cortisol levels will dictate your blood sugar levels. Sugar intake raises Serotonin and that is why it has the ability to make you calm. The neurotransmitter Dopamine can be elevated by taking a hot bath before bed promoting better sleep.
The third and final phase is called “Sleep Inertia” (waking up) and it is that time when you emerge from sleep. If you slept well, then you find it to be no problem shifting into gear and ready for the adventures of a new day. If you wake up tired, groggy, afraid, sluggish, brain fog, etc then something went wrong with your HPA Axis during the night. Unfortunately I see this day in and day out with most patients. The longer you wait the farther it gets away from you making it all the harder to correct.
Women clearly have more sleep issues than men and it’s easy to understand why. Women are the caretakers and that genetic wiring makes them feel a strong sense of responsibility hence the never ending burden. Women get their very identity from loving something and hopefully being loved back. If that Love does not exist or there is trouble in their life it is easy to see why sleep becomes difficult. Try and tell any mother to go to sleep before her children come home late and night. It’s almost impossible for them because they have a maternal bond that only a woman can truly understand. Elevated cortisol before bed is something that can destroy quality sleep to the point your immune system is affected.
Oddly enough the group that sleeps the least (that being women from 30-65) are the easiest to correct. There is a clear correlation between hormonal imbalance, blood sugar issues, diet and insomnia. Simple lab tests will usually reveal where imbalances exist and the provider will treat the patient accordingly. It can be just that simple.