If you deal with any type of insomnia or a multitude of autoimmune disorders, today’s question from one of our viewers is going to be highly impactful. So, my answer to you will also cover a lot of the bases for those of you who have sleep imbalances or are dealing with autoimmunity.
So, our question today comes from one of our viewers and the question specifically is, “How to combat high-level insomnia with multiple autoimmune illnesses?”
So, this is a great question. Specifically, I look at these two categories: We have multiple autoimmune diseases or disorders, and then we also have insomnia. And the two are interrelated, but we’re going to go into a deep dive here specifically about the nature of inflammation – systemic inflammation within the body.
Systemic Inflammation and our Stress Response Mechanism
Anytime I work with patients who have multiple levels – sometimes we consider these primary, secondary, and tertiary. So, we have these different layers, where one autoimmunity begets another, and then it’s this ripple effect where we will see compounding degrees of autoimmunity. This is ultimately going to trigger this whole stress response mechanism in the patient’s body.
So, specifically in this case, high levels or intense insomnia is a symptom of the inflammatory state of your body, specifically relating to these varying degrees of autoimmune disorder. And ultimately, anytime we’re looking at high levels of inflammation, as well as neurotransmitter imbalances – and that’s what insomnia really is signaling – is the brain is not getting all the right signals, and the communication pathways to calm the central nervous system and to have our glymphatic system do its detoxing at night – power down our organs in a good, rest-filled, rejuvenative sleep – then we are looking at, when that’s lacking, we’re looking at a deeper element of gut dysbiosis.
Gut Dysbiosis and Insomnia
And so, at the end of the day, inflammation and insomnia, we have to zero in on gut dysbiosis. And I highlight this really specifically in two of my master classes. One is gut-health-specific, and the other one is more of the biohacking your brain.
But in these two categories – brain health and gut health – there’s an interconnectivity where our brain is getting controlled by our second brain, our gut, and an assortment of chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters are being produced and controlled by our gut.
Enteric Nervous System and Gut Microbiome
We have this whole other part of our nervous system called our enteric nervous system, our ENS. The ENS is housed in our gut and it is heavily influenced by your gut microbiome. The little microbes of your gut, the bacteria in your gut, control all of these communication pathways. So if we’re looking at deep insomnia, we need to go deeper into the gut and healing the gut, healing leaky gut, healing bacterial imbalances in the small and large intestine, and ultimately calming this enteric nervous system.
Gut-Related Autoimmune Disorders
Then, the other thing that we’re dealing with, with any type of autoimmunity, is we’re dealing with leaky gut. Leaky gut is that source that causes systemic inflammation and triggers the immune response mechanism where the body, our immune system, attacks itself. And this is very broad. I don’t know what type of autoimmunity you’re dealing with, but common autoimmune elements that are gut-related are going to be things like rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s is a gut-related autoimmune dysfunction. We look at Sjogren’s disease as another one – we often see this as a third level, a tertiary-related autoimmune dysfunction – lupus, MS, we can see things like vitiligo and skin imbalances. We can even see autoimmunity of our joints. But all of the inflammation that we’re dealing with, it’s all coming back to the gut.
And then the gut-brain connection… there’s a gut-brain access, that’s actually what we call those pathways. We need to balance that pathway and we need to help the communication function better. And so I’m going to share with you some tips.
Test Before Supplementing or Treating
And anytime we’re looking at microbiome or microbes in our gut, I always say, “Don’t guess, test.” And so test your microbiome. There are ways that we can do that. We can do specifically gut testing, where we’re testing stool and actually analyzing your microbes, and then can really get specific about your ENS and where those communication pathways are deficient or not properly communicating.
We can also identify reasons why you might be presenting with estrogen dominance or why there’s hormonal imbalances that are also offsetting the melatonin levels. The melatonin is also a neurotransmitter.
Balancing Your Gut Health is the Primary Goal
So, at the end of the day, it’s all about balancing your gut, creating homeostasis in our gut. So, eating good, healthy, rich probiotic-dense foods, fermented foods, fermented fibers, fermented supplementation, which you get a plethora of fermented supplementation here at Organixx. As well as adding additional prebiotic-dense fiber, both soluble and insoluble fiber in the forms of apple pectin and inulin. These are all very powerful at helping to support and create a more supple, balanced, homeostasis within your gut.
Test Neurotransmitter Levels to Determine Specific Healing Protocol
So, I hope this answers your specific question. What I always recommend when we’re dealing with any type of multiple layers of illness is you want to get really specific. Again, you don’t want to guess, you want to test. So, test your melatonin levels. You can actually test your whole neurotransmitter profile. I do this with a lot of patients in my clinic where we need to know where their histamine levels are, where is their melatonin, where’s their dopamine, the serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and assortment of other neurotransmitters.
Those levels we need to identify, because often, melatonin gets billed as the cure-all of every insomnia type of case or state, but going deeper, looking at that deep dive, and going to the root cause of insomnia, it might not be a deficiency in melatonin. It’s likely an assortment of gut dysbiosis, as well as an intense inflammatory state that’s also triggering a spike in cortisol, which is the stress hormone, it’s a chronic stress hormone.
In small doses, cortisol is actually anti-inflammatory, but in high doses, it has a reverse effect. It can even create greater inflammation and can create imbalance within our circadian rhythm – the natural cycle of rising in the morning and feeling sleepy at night – and having rest-filled sleep.
So, those are some things to consider in delving into the root of your insomnia and the multiple autoimmune illnesses you’ve identified. And that can ultimately give you greater, more optimized healing. So, I hope that’s helpful, and definitely for folks as well, watching this particular answer, I invite you to ask additional questions about autoimmunity or insomnia or gut health, and I’d love to answer more questions.
Organixx ProBiotixx+ formula contains a single, super-strain of Lactobacillus plantarum, designed to help alleviate constipation… eliminate gas and belly bloat… support your entire immune system… and give you total digestive protection.
I want to share with you five really impactful and very easy tips to help you get to sleep in the healthiest and most optimized way. This answers the question of a lot of you viewers and consumers here at Organixx who are having a challenge with getting your body and your brain to calm down so that you can get optimal sleep.
And these five tips are going to be very impactful for individuals of all ages. So if you have children that might have this challenge where they’re not slowing down or their body seems like they’re awake, but maybe they’re a little grumpy and tired, these tips can also be applicable for our younger kids, as well as preteens and teens and young adults.
Avoid Blue Light Before Bed
All right. So kicking off with number one, this is really simple, and it is avoiding blue lights like your phone, your TVs, or any of the electronics that you might be using or working on within two hours of bedtime. And I recommend getting these blue light blocking glasses. And so these are a non-prescription glasses, these happen to be one of I think five pairs that I have. I have them everywhere.
And what these allow you to do, if you do have to work or you’re checking your phone, or even if you prefer to watch TV at night, when you wear these, it minimizes the impact of the blue light. And the blue light, these blocking glasses, they have these for kids as well, so if kids are using iPads or they’re working on computers for homework, have them put on their glasses from 6:00 PM until bedtime. So by wearing blue light blocking glasses, or even putting a little screen on your computer, they have those you can grab easily on Amazon. By wearing these, it helps to minimize the impact of the TV or the phone or the iPad light in affecting your sleep cycle.
And so the first thing is that blocking process is really stopping the impact of blue light that might keep you awake longer than what you prefer. So again, 6:00 PM and on wear these. These are non-prescription, super easy to grab, you can find these at your pharmacies, online, but really great – the blue light blocking glasses.
Set Your Thermostat for Sleep
Now, the second thing is to set your temperature. And I love to automate this function because it’s super easy. But you want to be sleeping in ideally the low seventies, high sixties. That ideal temperature range for optimal sleep is 68 to 72. Now, this depends on your budget, where you live, humidity levels, all different factors. But that temperature we find is ideal for good restorative, rejuvenative sleep. And it’s a part of that getting to sleep better when you’re under your blankets and you’re feeling cozy, it signals to the brain to go to sleep.
Now, third is an assortment of supplementation. Sometimes we need assistance, and the assistance comes in the way of assorted herbals and minerals that can support your body’s natural downgrading and getting into the sleep cycle. So we have that circadian rhythm, basically, it’s the day and night rhythm. We want to be ideally most awake in the morning. And we start to see the circadian rhythm drop, and it’s at its lowest point right before we are going to bed and engaging in sleep.
So, I first reach for Organixx Magnesium 7. Magnesium, especially now we have the seven assorted magnesium types and forms, they’re going to target different body systems. And magnesium has been clinically studied to help calm our central nervous system and eases the whole sleep cycle.
Magnesium is great if individuals find that they have insomnia or just that difficulty getting to sleep, magnesium is great. So again, that’s the Magnesium 7 here at Organixx.
Herbals and Teas
Now, sometimes we need some herbals and I love to incorporate herbals, very central-nervous-system-calming herbals, like passionflower and valerian. You can find these in teas. And I also like to add in a holy basil – that is an adaptogenic stress-reducing, cortisol-lowering adaptogen. And I grabbed this from my medicine cabinet. I drink tea a lot. I’m a tea lover and I have different teas that I drink throughout the day.
In the later part of the evening, after dinner, I will brew up a toasty sleep tea, I’ll brew up a valerian sleepy-time tea, and also just a passionflower tea. Sometimes you can get loose-leaf passionflower at your bulk natural stores and online. So, you can blend those also, you can make your own kind of sleepy-time tea combo.
But those are very impactful for just calming the system, helping slow things down, drop that circadian rhythm so that the body’s entering into that lower phase circadian rhythm so that we have the sleep cycle kicking off in the right form.
This is critical. I’m going to share additional tips in future video content, where I’m going to share with you how to stay asleep fully. So not wake up during the middle of the night. And how to wake up refreshed. But the kicking off, getting your body and the central nervous system balanced and lowered is really critical.
Now, often I get asked, “Hey, Dr. Melissa, what are your thoughts about melatonin?” Because that often gets billed as a neurotransmitter-focused supplement that can help balance sleep. And even GABA falls into that category. I recommend before using melatonin or GABA, that you’re going to often find in some natural sleep aids, I recommend having your neurotransmitters tested. Because too much melatonin actually will keep you awake and it won’t help you sleep solidly.
So, melatonin is one of those things that I use sparingly, I use it specifically, I want to have more clinical data, IE labs, to understand where your values are. Because sometimes we have to trim your melatonin or elevate the balance of other neurotransmitters to ease that increase in melatonin that might be causing your brain to race before you go to bed.
Bach Flower Therapy
Now, speaking of brain racing, number four, I love to incorporate this really amazing option. So, tip number four is this amazing natural therapeutic that involves flowers. And this might sound a little like, okay, what in the world are flowers going to have to do with sleeping better and actually getting to sleep easily?
I’m going to share with you a therapy that a psychiatrist analyzed in a psychiatric hospital a hundred years ago, that when psychiatric patients were brought out into the garden, if they were parked, their chairs or their wheelchairs, were parked near certain plants or trees, that they started to have some emotional relief. And they started to see and notice changes in their outlook. And even patients rebounded from whatever diagnosis or mental illness they had.
Well, fast forward to lots of research in identifying the different flowers that are associated with emotional challenges or really our emotions connect to certain flowers. And so what this therapy is, it’s called Bach flower remedies or Bach flower therapy. And it is incorporating specific flowers that can ease stress, can calm the mind. This is really, really impactful.
And what I recommend for any of my patients that are going to usually tell me, “Dr. Melissa, I’m always physically tired, but my brain is wired. I’m thinking about my day, I’m rehashing meetings, or oh, I could have said whatever with so and so, or I’m running through the list”, and your brain is awake, but your body’s really ready to go to sleep. But the brain is wired, it’s alert.
Bach flowers, so I’m going to share with you, it comes in an assortment of remedy forms. This happens to be a pastille. I have one I can show you, it’s a little like suck on, and you put it in your mouth and suck on it like you would a lozenge. They also have sprays, they also have drops. They have non-alcoholic drops for kids. They even have this for pets. And I’m going to share with you … There are five particular flower types that are in the overall remedy. This is going to categorically address stress, emotional trauma, grief. It addresses the general state of folks that have that mind that’s awake.
And how we use Bach flower remedies is to begin taking either a few sprays or a few drops an hour before the desired bedtime. And what my patients experience instantaneously is a releasing of that mind going, and it just calms down the mind so that you’re not thinking about the list. You’re not thinking about the meeting tomorrow. You’re not thinking about the meetings from today or the conversation with your spouse or your kids. Those all go away. And the emotions just root, so that the body can sleep. It’s by far one of my most spectacular remedies and resources for folks that have a hard time getting to sleep. And it’s the brain that’s going. It’s not always the body that’s a challenge, but it’s the brain. And it’s the thinking, the constant thought pattern.
Your Sleep Environment
Okay. So, last and final, I want to share with you, is really setting the right tone for the sleep environment. I call this the right bedroom environment. Meaning, is your bedroom space ideal for optimal sleep? And there’s several steps to this. But I want you to assess, and even some of my patients, I’m having them take pictures from different angles of their bedroom. And I want to make sure that we have no clutter in the bedroom. I want to make sure there’s nothing being packed or stuffed underneath the bed. I want to make sure that their beds are made. When they’re getting into bed, it’s really nice clean, crisp sheets, because you’re not having to worry about a messed up bed.
But more importantly, I want to make sure we don’t have a TV in the bedroom. I want to make sure that the bed itself is comfortable and conducive for the right sleep environment. Meaning, how do your sheets feel? Are they the right thread count? Are they breathable? Are you under enough or too many blankets? What’s your pillow like, are you dealing with a pillow that might be causing you to wake up or just cause you discomfort?
I also like to have patients who need that extra support to getting them to go to sleep, I incorporate a weighted blanket. This really targets folks that have anxiety, just underlying anxiety and even depression. Weighted blankets have a ton of research. They come in different weights and sizes. They have little younger kiddo ones to teens and adult versions. But my weighted blanket, it’s 15 pounds. Brian calls it my iron curtain because I have it just on my side. And it is glorious. It just feels like I’m a snug little bug in my bed. And it just is like … I bring it up to here and it just feels like you’re being hugged.
That action of the weight on the body is a sensory signaling. It creates sensory signals that literally calms the mind, calms the body. We have hormones that get produced, happy, healthy, good sleep-inducing hormones that come from the activity of being in a weighted blanket.
Now, if any of you are parents, think about when you brought your newborn home from the hospital. The effort was to create that fourth trimester where you really swaddled them and have them wrapped up where they felt like they were still inside their mother’s uterus. Weighted blankets take us back to that primal state as humans. And it’s very effective for getting somebody to sleep better and faster. So that is a game changer, total game changer.
The other thing is I want to look at what is the sleep clothing that you’re wearing. Are you wearing breathable clothing? For some of my patients that might experience night sweats, I want to make sure we’re wearing wicking, bamboo-related night clothing and nightwear – shirts, tank tops, camis for ladies, and pants for men. But I want to make sure that sweat is not going to cause you grief in getting to sleep because that can be a big factor. Get into bed, and all of a sudden you’re sweating. You’re not going to be comfortable. Even if that temperature is 68 degrees in your bedroom.
White Noise & Air Purifiers
The other thing is to deploy white noise via an air filter. This is one of those things where I’m using this tool as a way to create a space where your body is not being bombarded by allergens, dust. As well as enhances that whole airflow so that we’re not maximizing or you’re not experiencing inflammation that will register when you wake up, puffy eyes, gunkiness in your nose.
So, that’s really important to look at maybe adding a white noise machine. That’s another way, the brain just zeros in on it and just lulls you into a sleep. It’s almost like when babies and young toddlers are driving around in a car, I mean, it’s like magic. That was actually what Gabriel … we’d have to drive him around to have him take a nap. And so white noise is highly effective now he’s older. But adults can benefit from that white noise.
And I just like to blend that where, let’s have your air filter, a good clean HEPA high-quality air filter. Maybe even with a little UV, have that function as your white noise machine.
Himalayan Salt Lamps & Green Plants
And then last and final environmental-wise. I want to make sure we are also emitting good negative ions into your air via a Himalayan salt lamp, as well as maybe having a green plant like a lily. I love lilies in the bedroom. They’re very oxygenating and they clean the air. That’s really important though, just have that nice, clean, crisp environment where it’s just soothing.
You can even incorporate essential oils. Here at Organixx, we have really wonderful lavender. I love lavender and frankincense, you put those two together on a little cotton ball. And I will stick them on the Shakra points. So, I’ll do one where your hips might be, mid-back, up here around the neck, and then even I’ll tuck one in the pillow. Frankincense is very grounding, it’ll bring down your energy and it’ll root you into that whole circadian rhythm. Lavender is just so calming.
So, you can incorporate sight, sense, smells, just that feeling of comfort, great sheets, an excellent pillow, weighted blanket, cool temperatures – very, very impactful for helping you get to sleep better.
I hope these five tips were helpful. Let us know how you do with them. And if you have any other challenges you want us to address with the sleep cycle. And make sure you subscribe and follow us along here. As well as read your emails … As well as watch future emails coming out with additional ways to help you sleep better.