Insomnia is a common complaint with the patients I see who have health challenges such as fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism symptoms, peripheral neuropathy and vertigo.
If you suffer from trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, you know how frustrating that can be! There are many reasons for insomnia. In my practice, I find that a majority of insomniacs suffer from varying degrees of adrenal gland fatigue related to abnormal immune activity as a result of undetected autoimmune illness.
What is the adrenal gland, you may ask? The adrenal gland is a small dual layered endocrine gland fount atop each kidney. This important little gland is tasked with many jobs in your body. Adrenal glands are made up of two parts; the cortex and medulla. Each part produces hormones, which are chemical messengers that regulate body functions. The medulla (inner layer of the adrenal gland), produces the hormones norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenalin), which regulate the "fight or flight" response in the body, the body's reaction to stressful events. The cortex (the outer layer of the adrenal gland), produces several hormones that affect blood pressure and blood sugar levels, growth, as well as some sexual characteristics.
When someone has a chronic health challenge with a previously undetected autoimmune component, several detrimental changes in body chemistry occur.
To put is simply; inflammatory immune signalling chemicals play a role in triggering abnormal nervous system function and a breakdown of the main barrier systems of the body (such as the gut-blood barrier and the blood-brain barrier). These barriers are like the walls of your house, which are supposed to keep good things in and bad things out. When the "walls" are damaged, the immune system springs into action to attack invaders and all kinds of bad things start happening.
A viscious cycle progressses with the nervous system and inflammatory immune chemicals, called cytokines, stimulating the adrenal glands, which in turn stimulate the nervous system, etc. This wind-up depletes the abilty of the adrenal glands to keep blood sugar levels adequate for proper brain and nervous system function.
As you try to sleep you may find your brain too active and you can't fall asleep. Another common insomnia pattern is the ability to fall asleep, only to wake up a couple of hours later. The most common reason for this pattern is the lowered blood sugar (from poor adrenal function) signals a stress response and the adrenal glands produce adrenaline, which wakes you up. Now you are awake and have trouble getting back to sleep! Take the Adenal Glad Quick Check Quiz to evaluate your adrenal function.
The good news, is with proper evaluation of your condition, the underlying problems can be discovered and addressed along with healing of the adrenal gland. The result; a greater number of hours of deep slumber for you. When you are more rested, you are more ready to tackle your work, have fun with your family and enjoy hobbies and pastimes!
Below is a list of various nutrients that affect a person with Insomnia
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) - increases REM sleep; improves both quality and quantity of sleep by converting trytophan to serotonin.
- Folate & Vitamin B6 - both are cofactors for several neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine, many of which regulate sleep patterns.
- Vitamin B12 - normalizes circadian rythms (sleep-wake cycles); therapeutic benefits of B12 supplementation, both oral and intravenous, seen in studies.
- Magnesium - improving magnesium status is associated with better quality sleep; mimics the action of melatonin; also alleviates insomnia due to restless leg syndrome.
- Zinc & Copper - both interact with NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain that regulate sleep; a higher Zn/Cu ratio is linked to longer sleep duration.
- Oleic Acid - this fatty acid is a precursor of oleamide, which regulates our drive for sleep and tends to accumulate in the spinal fluid of sleep-deprived animals. Oleic acid also facilitates the absorption of vitamin A.
- Vitamin A - studies suggest vitamin A deficiency alters brain waves in non-REM sleep causing sleep to be less restorative.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) - in clinical trials, supplementation of healthy individuals that had marginal B1 deficiency improved their sleep.
Click on the image below to download this chart with references:
One of the tests used to evaluate nutritional imbalances at Johnson Chiropractic Neurology & Nutrition is the Spectracell Micronutrient Test. I find this test invaluable at fine tuning our patients nutrtitional eating and supplement plan. Rather than guessing about what nutrients a patient is deficient in, this test shows very distinctly what is needed to help overcome their chronic health challenge.
Medications, genetic influences, dietary habits all play a part in the unique nutritional deficiency that needs repletion for an individual. Often, it's a matter of changing ones diet and supplements that will make the difference with continue suffering or returning to a state of vibrant health.
A good example come from my own experience with warts on my right foot that would not go away for years. Once the proper testing was done and a deficiency discovered and remedied, the warts disappeared in 3 weeks. I wrote an article about it entitled; Untangling Autoimmune Illness Mysteries With Proper Testing.
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