What Causes Insomnia & Is There A Natural Remedy?
One of the issues that we regularly consult with patients about at our clinics is difficulty sleeping, or insomnia. Whether it’s problems nodding off or not being able to stay asleep throughout the night, the result can be distressing and also lead to a multitude of other potential health issues including depressed mood, difficulty concentrating and increase the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. It can also just leave you with a sense of just not being able to cope with the challenges that we are presented with on a daily basis. In these current uncertain times, many more people have been struggling to get a decent night’s rest. The unprecedented changes that we have all lived through in recent months have led to many of us worried about work, maintaining good health and immunity as well as concern for loved ones who may live in other states or countries. So what causes insomnia and what are some of the natural ways to induce a good night’s rest?
We all know that as adults we should be getting around 7-9 hours sleep a night, with school-age children generally requiring around 10 hours. Problems usually start to occur when we regularly get less than 6 hours of decent sleep a night. Making changes to our lifestyle and daily routine to try and reduce stress is a natural first response to try and address the issue. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake at night as well as avoiding screen usage at least an hour before bed are some of the common-sense measures that we can all adopt. But what if these things don’t work? What else might be causing poor sleep issues and how is insomnia defined?
Insomnia: How Is It Defined?
Insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, maintenance, duration, and/or quality of sleep. This occurs despite adequate opportunity and time for sleep and results in daytime impairment. Mild (transient or short-term) insomnia is known to affect between 30-50% of the general population, whilst chronic insomnia has a prevalence of 9-15%. This disorder affects energy levels, memory, concentration and problem-solving skills. In addition, it has been linked to learning disabilities in children. Sleeplessness not only affects the individual but also produces social stress, lowered employee productivity and a higher number of accidents. Therefore it is vital that the cause and treatment of insomnia are adequately addressed.
What Causes Insomnia?
Imbalances in two key hormones may be at the root of your insomnia: melatonin and cortisol.
Melatonin is often referred to as the sleep hormone. It is a peptide hormone produced by the pineal gland which helps to control normal sleep patterns. Melatonin works with your body’s natural internal clock sometimes referred to as the circadian rhythm. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant which also helps to control your body temperature and blood pressure and may provide a variety of other benefits. Deficiencies of this hormone can lead to insomnia; however melatonin supplementation can effectively treat this problem if diagnosed correctly.
Cortisol, on the other hand, is sometimes known as the ‘stress hormone’. It is a glucocorticoid hormone which is essential for life. It is produced by the adrenal glands and is raised by stress and involved in the body’s response to it. Cortisol is involved in many functions of the body including the central nervous system (CNS) stimulation, blood sugar regulation, and immune system modulation. When deficiencies or excess of this steroid hormone occur many symptoms and health conditions are experienced.
So what causes insomnia? When trying to establish the cause of a patient’s poor sleep, we explore a number of areas including melatonin deficiency, adrenal function, thyroid function and whether menopause may be playing a role in imbalances of these hormones.
Is There A Natural Treatment for Insomnia?
The good news is that there are a number of natural options available to restore the body’s natural hormonal balance and improve the quality and longevity of your sleep.
We start by taking a full medical history of all of our patients and where appropriate we recommend tests to assess melatonin deficiency and/or tests to explore thyroid and adrenal function. With all the relevant information available to us we are then able to offer natural support through appropriate supplementation and help get you back on track to regular, restorative healthy sleep patterns. We can help restore your natural zest and energy without resorting to ‘sleeping tablets’, all too often seen as a quick fix and first response in traditional medicine.
If you’re struggling with a lack of sleep or feel you could be getting a better night’s rest, book an appointment with the expert team at Perpetual Wellbeing and let us help get you back to waking up feeling refreshed and ready to face whatever the day has in store.
We offer Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine consultations
at 2 convenient locations, Brisbane CBD and Graceville