Can you recall funny scenarios in your life resulting from INSOMNIA? “Many years ago I had to do a presentation. When I got to the meeting and opened my briefcase, I realized I had been carrying a backgammon board all morning.” … “One morning I caught myself putting both contacts in one eye then almost mistaking nail glue for contact solution.” … “Going to sleep and forgetting the dogs were outside in the cold.” … “Putting the dustpan in the refrigerator and the milk on the floor near the broom.” … “Constantly looking for my glasses and wearing not one, but two pairs on my head.” … “Going through the drive-thru for coffee and ordering from the garbage can.” … Finally, from a new mom: ”My husband loves hockey and he really wanted to take me to a hockey game. All I wanted to do was sleep but I knew how important it was, so we went. I also should tell you I am not a hockey fan. It was the end of the game, I was fading fast and they scored! Yay! I was thinking, 'Oh thank you, God, there isn't an overtime!' The screen lit up and slowly G-O-A-L came across. I read it and looked to my husband and said, 'Who's Al?' With utter disgust, he said, 'It says goal, not Go Al!'"
Recalling the crazy things we do can be funny now, but not so funny for the current insomnia sufferer.
Causes of Sleeplessness: stress, toxicity, poor diet, loneliness, lying, withholding the truth or burying secrets, racing thoughts, anxiety, depression/grief, angry/irritability, lack of exercise, lack of sex, alcohol overconsumption, medications – prescriptive and over the counter, travel, shift work …
Many solutions to insomnia causes are obvious. Listed below are the three most common forms of sleeplessness that I have observed in my practice along with their respective naturopathic protocols. They always have hormonal and biochemical components associated with the dysfunctions.
MOST COMMON FORMS OF SLEEPLESSNESS
The Toxic Body: Ability to fall asleep and stay asleep BUT chronically groggy and tired in the morning … This usually occurs from not getting enough R.E.M. sleep and from poor nutrition and accumulated toxicity. To help the body promote R.E.M. sleep, it is important to support serotonin production. This can be done with 5-HTP, B vitamins and magnesium. The focus is then on detoxification, first from the colon, then the liver and finally, yeast overgrowth. Lastly, dietary and lifestyle changes have to be made which can be offered to you in chart form at Nature’s Remedy and via my e-mail or through my weekly In.Form classes.
Product Suggestions by Nature’s Sunshine-Sold at Nature’s Remedy: 5-HTP Power, NutriCalm (B Vitamins), Magnesium Complex, Candida Clear Program and Love & Peas.
The Stressed Out Body: Inability to fall asleep BUT once asleep is then difficult to wake up in the morning … Here the focus is to support the adrenal glands, the thyroid gland and the reproductive hormones. Once the body has gone through a prolonged period of stress, the result is usually adrenal dysregulation and the function of the adrenal glands can be seen through a 24-hour saliva test. The most common pattern is high cortisol production at night (which should be low - preparing us to go to sleep) and low cortisol production in the morning (which should be high - allowing us to wake up). A 3-month program of adrenal glandulars (from cow/bovine), B vitamins and magnesium is followed by continued use of herbal adaptogens and a Chinese herbal combination. In addition, support serotonin and GABA neurotransmitters. Finally, direct sleep aids would be melatonin or valerian root.
Product Suggestions by Nature’s Sunshine-Sold at Nature’s Remedy: Adrenal Support (adrenal grandulars from cow), NutriCalm (B vitamins), Magnesium Complex, Adaptomax (adaptogenic herbal combination), SUMA (adaptogenic herbal combination especially great for O blood types), MACA (adaptagenic herb from Peru ALSO GREAT for low libido!), the Chinese herbal combination, Nervous Fatigue Formula TCM (helps to restore your passion and drive, improves sleep and helps one recover from long-term stress. Some people like to take it at bedtime, but some find that it gives them energy when they do that. So it is fine to take in the morning or at dinner. Either way it will have the effect of improving your sleep as your body recovers from stress. This formula is often taken for a period of 3 months), 5-HTP and GABA Plus, Melatonin Extra and Valerian T/R.
The High-Strung: Inability to Stay Asleep … The focus for the high-strung person is to calm the nervous system not only at night, but also ALL day long without inducing sedation during the day. The most calming neurotransmitter is GABA. When combined with taurine, GABA has the greatest overall calming effect on the body without sedation. Theanine is another amino acid that calms the body and lifts the mood at the same time. Magnesium will help relieve muscle tension and leg cramps. B vitamins calm the nervous system. A specific Chinese herbal combination will relieve stress. Finally, direct aids for staying asleep are passionflower or kava kava.
Product Suggestions by Nature’s Sunshine-Sold at Nature’s Remedy: GABA Plus, Anxiousless, Magnesium Complex, NutriCalm, Stress Relief TCM (works well to help quiet the mind. It is particularly helpful for people with anxiety, absent-mindedness, extreme changes in emotion, heart palpitations, vivid dreaming, muscle tension, nervousness and tension and panic attacks), PassionFlower and Kava Kava (an herb that works well for anxiety with panic tendencies, mental cloudiness due to stress, menopausal mood swings, tight muscles and over-active instinctive behavior (a tendency to over-react to a stressful situation).
Regardless of the cause(s) of your sleeplessness, I have observed 5 universal therapies that can help any type of insomnia.
• Dietary Changes: Elimination of wheat, processed sugar, all chemical sweeteners, sodas, caffeine after 2pm, processed foods and any possible food intolerances (such as dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, eggs and nightshades). Addition of more vegetables/plant foods and vegan protein smoothies. (Love & Peas - sugar free)
• Detoxification: Of the colon, small intestines, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, lymphatic system, skin and lungs. (Please contact me for information on these programs!) In addition to supporting the body’s detoxification organs/systems, cleansing can be done for yeast, parasitic, viral and bacterial overgrowths, heavy metals, negative estrogens, and weight loss resistance.
• Test For and Treat Hormonal and/or Neurotransmitter Imbalances: Via urine (for neurotransmitters) and saliva (for hormones especially assessing the adrenal glands) through neuroscience. Balancing the endocrine and nervous systems will also help anxiety, irritability, anger, depression/grief, ADD/ADHD, apathy and memory issues.
• Calming Bath Before Bed: 2 cups of Kosher salt, 1 cup of Epsom salt, ¼ teaspoon of Refuge Essential Oil Blend and ¼ Lavender Essential Oil. Soak for 30 minutes. After the bath, rub 5 drops of Lavender Oil on the bottom of each foot and the back of the neck.
• Find A Safe Haven: Where you can be open and honest with your hurts and disappointments; confess your shortcomings and secrets; find solutions for your problems and challenges - especially financial, marital and parental obstacles; and prevent loneliness from creeping in and taking over. No one is a rock or an island. Resolving and solving these common life issues will bring hope and healing to our bones.
In conclusion, sleeplessness must be treated all day long … NOT just one hour before bed. Most insomnia problems are due to biochemical and hormonal imbalances. If you are someone who experiences chronic anxiety along with various insomnia problems, here is a general elixir for overall calmness: 1 Anxiousless, 2 GABA Plus, 1 NutriCalm, 2 Magnesium Complex, 1 Stress Relief. Take with breakfast and dinner for two weeks and reassess your sleep, energy, mood and mental function. Please call or email me anytime for consultations in my Ellicottville office or via phone/FaceTime/Skype. Happy Sleeping!