Optimal Sleep Health: Will I Ever Sleep Without Meds Again?
Emma says, “Hi, doc. Can you please give me some advice on insomnia? I’ve had chronic sleep-onset insomnia for 22 years and would like to know if I will ever sleep without meds again. It’s a very depressing condition.”
Okay, Emma, I totally, totally can understand. This 22 years, so two decades, of extreme insomnia is not only debilitating to the body, but can be very disruptive to your overall neuroendocrine health.
Address Neuroendocrine and Adrenal Health
When we are dealing with any type of mild, moderate, or extreme insomnia, we are in need of addressing your neuroendocrine health, as well as your adrenal health. Those are the two kinds of categories that I want to focus on for this particular condition. I also want to offer you five different ways to address insomnia naturally.
Assess Your Circadian Rhythm and Cortisol Levels
My first way, most important, is to assess your circadian rhythm. A lot of times with insomnia, we’re imbalanced in terms of our natural sleep cycle. And ideally, we should have a circadian rhythm that rises in the morning and slowly slopes down to bedtime where it’s at a natural point where we go to sleep.
That circadian rhythm actually can be assessed and tested, and that is something where we test your adrenal health. There is a hormone that your adrenal glands produce called cortisol, and cortisol is the hormone that sets our natural circadian rhythm.
So ideally in the morning, cortisol, it starts to peak and it spikes and at the highest point is when you naturally arise. That’s when we’re awake, we’re most alert and alive, and feel like you can take on the world. Well, insomnia, a lot of times we have that flip-flopped, or sometimes the adrenal function and the state of cortisol is lower than what we want. By assessing your cortisol, that’s most critical, you can directly address the state of your adrenal glands.
Adrenal Glands and Neurotransmitter Deficiencies
Now, the other thing that comes with addressing your adrenal glands – there’s two parts to your adrenal glands. They’re two little tortilla-shaped glands that sit above your kidneys. It’s kind of like a hat for your kidneys. Those adrenal glands not only balance your sleep circadian cycle, they also are sending a ton of signals to the brain, and they also produce hormones. The middle part of the adrenal glands are called the adrenal cortex. That is the adrenal function that directly sends signals to neurotransmitters. Your neuroendocrine system is controlled by neurotransmitters. That’s basically real complicated to speak for, your brain is going to control certain body systems, and one of the body systems or cycles within the body is your sleep cycle.
By addressing our neurotransmitter health, and you can test for that, I test all the time with my patients, I want to assess three key neurotransmitters that control, 1) sleep balance, 2) sleep cycle, and then also 3) calming of your central nervous system.
The first neurotransmitter that tends to be in an imbalanced state is the GABA neurotransmitter. GABA is actually a brain-oriented calming neurotransmitter, and it is going to be the neurotransmitter that signals when the body’s at its calmest state and trigger sleep. If you are dealing with chronic onset insomnia, then that is going to be something where GABA levels are probably imbalanced.
The second neurotransmitter very commonly known with sleep is melatonin, and the third is serotonin. Those two, serotonin and melatonin, need to be in a particular balance. If serotonin is imbalanced, melatonin will be imbalanced. This is a really critical intricate measurement, and it needs to be tested and assessed before we start to dose with melatonin or other pro-serotonin supplements like 5-HTP.
Those three particular neurotransmitters tend to be in a particular deficiency. If you are dealing with insomnia, those three tend to be the ones that will show some degree of imbalance. And in your case, you may be having all three levels at a very high deficiency state.
Now that leads to the gland that is producing some of these neurotransmitters, and that is the hypothalamus. A lot of times with my patients, if they are dealing with hypothalamic imbalances, there is a really important way to address that from a natural perspective. I will use hypothalamic glandulars, and I will also use certain lifestyle routines and practices to help love on your hypothalamus to help regulate sleep. The hypothalamus not only regulates sleep, but it also helps increase or enhance the duration of sleep.
This is also impactful and effective for individuals who wake up in the middle of the night. If you wake up between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM, a very common time, that will be indicative of also liver imbalance. We may need to have some liver detoxing and liver love supported in your routine.
Test Histamine Levels
Now, the fourth really important way to address sleep imbalances is to assess your histamine levels. There are a lot of different blood tests and labs that we can run to evaluate if you have elevations in histamine. There are ways to assess this also in your own body. Like if you have a reaction to the environment, you have allergies, environmental allergies, or if you get a bug bite and it becomes raised and red, that can be an indicator that you might have some elevations, mild or moderate elevations, of histamine. Some folks have more intense histamine imbalances that lead to things like PoTS and other diagnoses. But histamine control is really critical for addressing your inflammation levels.
Address Systemic Inflammation
At the core of histamine increase is going to be systemic inflammation, and there are a lot of different ways to address inflammation. When we’re dealing with sleep, it’s not just the stomach in your body, but we’re also dealing with brain – neuro-based – inflammation. Foods, environmental toxins, allergens – those can all be sources of inflammation, as well as gut imbalance.
One of my favorite Organixx products that I love to recommend is the Joint & Muscle Care. That has a very wonderful blend of systemic inflammation lowering supplements, and it also has the power and potency to pass through the blood-brain barrier to help support your neuroinflammation and lower those levels.
Calm Your Central Nervous System
The fifth and final way that I like to recommend to individuals and patients like yourself who have sleep imbalances is we need to calm your central nervous system. There are a lot of different ways to do this. One of my favorite over-the-counter ways is by incorporating a full complex blend of magnesium. And the Magnesium 7 here at Organixx is really, really powerful because they have an assortment of magnesium types. But there are two critical magnesium forms – magnesium glycinate and magnesium borate – that can help calm down your central nervous system.
This is proven and very impactful for helping ease you into it calm central nervous system state that can offset some of the inflammation and some of the stress that the body is experiencing that could be preventing you from moving into a sleep state.
Meditation and Thymus Tapping
I’m also going to recommend meditation. Super, super powerful at helping calm down your central nervous system. I also recommend something super easy that you can do any time you’re kind of feeling stressed or anxious, particularly at night, I recommend thymus tapping. Your thymus gland is right here in between your chest, just at the lower part of your breastbone.
The thymus gland can actually instantly calm down your central nervous system and create a sense of calm and peace within your body. You make a little fist and you just do like a Tarzan tap and you can tap like this for five to 15 seconds. You want to do a little forcefully, so you kind of hear my vibration. But after doing that, you’re going to feel a vibration here in the mid-chest. That’s your thymus gland getting invigorated.
Doing all of these balancing activities, plus right before bed, tapping your thymus gland will definitely help to address the insomnia.
I hope that’s helpful, Emma. Please keep us posted on your progress.