Insomnia and a deficiency of nutrients, could it really be that simple? There are several pundits that will suggest that nutrients have absolutely nothing to do with insomnia, and that stress, coffee, or alcohol are the real cause of why you can not sleep. Sleeping pills and aids are certainly not the answer, as they can become very addictive over time.
With the litany of reasons why you can not get a good nights sleep, there is still one glaring fact; there is no central common reason for insomnia and about 50% of all cases may have no real identifiable cause. But in the vast majority of confirmed causes, the underlying cause will be a condition, a disease, or something self induced.
We are what we eat, and most everyone can relate to that. Not eating right or being deficient of certain nutrients can make us sick, nervous, anxious, short in temper, miserable, and the list goes on. So why would not being able to sleep really be any different?
Insomnia is a condition where it is difficult to fall asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or waking up too early in the morning. You will still lay there as you know you need the rest, but you simply can not sleep. The question is why can’t you sleep?
It is estimated that only about 35 percent of people worldwide get the eight hours of recommended sleep. A lot of people can function very effectively on six to seven hours of sleep, but if those hours are constantly being challenged by insomnia, several things will start to happen in your body and none of them will be good.
Causes of Insomnia:
Many of the causes of insomnia will be from some type of a substance abuse such as too much caffeine, alcohol, or even smoking. Recreational drugs or prescriptive medications can also be the cause. All those may be considered self induced to some extent and can be curtailed, but they also deplete your body of much needed vitamins and minerals, which can be replaced if you know the benefits of the nutrients.
A different working schedule can result in loss of sleep, but that can be adjusted to if your body is healthy and your immune system is strong. The lose of melatonin in the body, which is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland from amino acid and tryptophan, is also a major cause of insomnia, especially as we age.
There are some real interesting facts about melatonin. The synthesis and release of this hormone is actually stimulated by darkness and is it suppressed by light, which strongly suggests that it is very heavily involved in the actual sleep cycle.
The bodies levels of melatonin are at its highest points prior to the time your body is signaling it is time for sleep. However, as the body ages, the levels of this hormone drops, meaning that it needs to be supplemented.
Menopause and the hormonal changes during a women’s menstrual cycle also bring on a loss of sleep, but this as well can be regulated by and controlled by nutrients. Advanced aging as well as several medical conditions may also be the cause, as well as certain neurological conditions such as anxiety, depression, and restless leg syndrome.
Complications and Risks of Insomnia:
There are several potential complications and risks that are associated with insomnia. Not feeling completely refreshed after sleep can cause you to perform inadequately in a daily routine or job function. It can also cause you to become drowsy and fatigued, especially dangerous if your drive any length of time at your job, or to and from activities.
It also leads to irritability which is usually brought on because you are having a hard time concentrating and focusing. This will than naturally lead to a reduced level of performance that can affect several aspects of daily life.
There is a multitude of life style changes that are recommended by some experts such as maintaining a consistent time you go to bed and wake up, but that really does not help if you can’t sleep. Others suggest taking a hot bath before bed, keeping your bedroom cool, avoid looking at the clock, avoid fluids, avoid television, and the list goes on and on.
But there is still one major factor with these do and don’t lists; the bottom line is you still can not sleep. And sleeping pills certainly are not the answer as they can become additive and are very dangerous to people with certain conditions such as psychosis, breathing problems, and heart disease.
Treatments of insomnia:
This is where it really gets interesting to some sleep experts. Several will recommend mind body therapy, bright light therapy, as well as behavioral therapy. Others will say acupuncture and acupressure are the only ways to treat insomnia.
But it can really be much simpler than all of this. If fact if you tried to remember and do everything that all of the experts suggest, it is no wonder that you can’t sleep. It becomes like golf where the more you try to remember what to do, the worse you actually are.
We are what we eat or what we supplement our body with to help the immune system fight anything that may be out there trying to attack us. Melatonin is nature’s mechanism to help us sleep and it is has been available for a few years now as a supplement in the United States. However, it is still not FDA approved and it is banned in several countries. It also has risks involved with several conditions such as severe allergies, auto immune disease’s, or cancer, just to name a few. But vitamins and minerals do not pose these risks and are becoming more accepted by the medical community every day.
Calcium has a sedative effect on the body and a deficiency of this mineral is well documented to cause restlessness and is especially effective when combined with magnesium. Low levels of magnesium causes nervous and anxiety symptoms, which naturally causes a light sleep as well as waking up very easily. Vitamin B6 helps to produce serotonin, which is the organic compound formed from tryptophan that actually stimulates melatonin. Serotonin also helps to smooth muscles as well as relaxing them. It is perhaps the best natural way to help your body in sleeping naturally. However, perhaps the most important vitamin for preventing insomnia is Vitamin B1, thiamine. This critical vitamin is required by every cell in the body to formulate the fuel that the body runs on. It has a special role in neurophysiology separate from its co-enzyme functions. It is needed for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, and is especially important in the carbohydrate metabolism in the brain.
Summary: We are what we eat and it affects everything that we do, how we act, and how we sleep. Instead of reaching for a sleeping pill next time you can’t sleep, nourish the body and the brain with nutrients that never become addictive.