If you have insomnia, you understand the seriousness of simply not getting a good night’s sleep. Your whole world around you appears to crumble when you can’t get a good 6-8 hours of quality deep REM sleep. As a result, your work life and your family life all suffer.
Today’s article will discuss a few “key” things to consider to solve insomnia.
To begin, remember that the awakening after a few hours of sleep and not being able to get back to sleep often rebound from what you ate or drank hours before. Again, high sugar, alcohol, highly spiced foods, and caffeinated drinks are often the culprits.
If you are unknowingly deficient in chromium, vanadium, manganese, and other nutrients, you can experience a hypoglycemic rebound in a few hours. You abruptly wake up and cannot drift back to sleep.
Let’s now consider the “happy hormones” that lead to restful sleep.
One of these hormones is serotonin, which anti-depressants like Prozac work on.
We make serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan.
Unfortunately, as we age or are faced with an overload of stress, the level of serotonin suffers.
Studies show that low tryptophan levels lead to insomnia, awakening feeling unrested, inability to stay asleep after getting there, and just lying there all night watching the clock.
For over a quarter of a century, dozens of studies have proven this amino produces excellent sleep in many and with no side effects or hangover. Folks have better mental clarity during the day. Furthermore, it improves daytime depression, PMS, fibromyalgia, anxiety, carbohydrate cravings, binge eating, and even alcohol recovery.
From a functional medicine position, it is vital to know that a simple B6 or zinc deficiency can contribute to insomnia. For example, a common vitamin B6 deficiency can keep you awake all night, or low zinc causes the impaired conversion of B6, which is needed to make tryptophan work.
If you have an elevated organic acid, kynurenate acid, and a low tryptophan, the correction of B6 may be all you need.
Now don’t forget plasticizers in our bodies lower zinc which is needed in the enzyme to convert B6 to its active form to transform tryptophan into serotonin.
I am disappointed with the number of people with insomnia who could be helped if only their physician understood the significance of nutritional biochemistry.
It comes down to finding the cause of the cause.
Remember that as important as serotonin is for sleep and moods, most serotonin is not made in the brain.
Ninety-five percent of serotonin is made in the gut.
If the gut isn’t healthy, then you are going nowhere. If you have gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, or other gut issues, your chances of solving your insomnia problem may be futile until you fix your gut.
The secret is to find a doctor who understands the probable underlying causes of insomnia and knows how to do the proper testing to discover what needs to be fixed.
It really can be as simple as that.
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Ashley DV, et al, Evidence for diminished brain 5-hydroxytrptamine biosynthesis in obese diabetic and non-diabetic humans, Am J Clin Nutr, 42; 6:1240-5, 1985
Riemann D, et al, The tryptophan depletion test: impact on sleep in primary insomnia – a pilot study, Psychiatry Res, 109; 2:129-35, 2002
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