A good night’s sleep is essential to your physical and mental wellbeing given its role in the removal of toxins, regulating hormone levels and good immune system function. Insomnia is a condition that affects up to 30% of adults and leaves sufferers unable to fall asleep while other sleep disorders involve being unable to sleep through the night and waking up feeling fatigued even after sleep.
These can result in trouble concentrating, poor decision making, brain fog and weight gain among other effects. Conventionally, sleep-related conditions are treated with medications to rebalance the sleep and wake cycle but fail to address the root cause of the issue, and may also cause unwanted side effects. Understanding what is behind your sleep disorder is the first step to rediscovering restful and restorative sleep.
Stress & Anxiety
Being under high levels of stress and feeling anxious may be behind your inability to get a good night’s sleep. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands and is normally at its highest level in the morning to wake up the body and stimulate the organs for the day ahead. Throughout the day, the level of cortisol gradually decreases, reaching its lowest levels at night-time allowing the body to rest and fall asleep. An imbalance in cortisol levels due to stress and anxiety often produces high levels of cortisol in the evening and during the night which makes falling asleep and achieving proper, restful sleep impossible.
Functional testing can be undertaken to assess your sleep-wake cycles as well as levels of key hormones such as cortisol and neurotransmitters that may be interfering with your sleep. Changes to your lifestyle and diet can also be made to restore your biochemical balance and normalise your cortisol levels. Dietary changes include increasing your protein intake, cutting down on sugar and high glycaemic foods as well as increasing the volume of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet can also make a big impact. Stress management is also key to restoring better sleep such as through meditation, exercise, yoga and acupuncture depending on your needs.
Eating too much processed junk food, regular intake of alcohol and not having a diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and wholegrains can play havoc with your blood sugar levels. Having hypoglycaemia or Type II diabetes can exacerbate the issue further which creates disturbed sleep patterns, fatigue, headaches, and brain fog.
Correcting blood sugar levels can be achieved through consultation with a nutritionist who will assess your daily eating habits and advise on suitable recipes as well as the right combination of vitamin and mineral supplements to restore your body’s natural balance.
The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria which play a vital role in digestion, neurotransmitter and hormone production as well as good immune system function. An imbalance in good probiotic bacteria which is called Dysbiosis can have a significant impact on the body’s ability to achieve restorative sleep. This is because the gut produces 90% of the body’s Serotonin which is the ‘happy hormone’ and plays a crucial role in circadian rhythm regulation. The gut is also responsible for producing Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, GABA, Glutamine, and Dopamine. An imbalance in gut bacteria can lead to a ‘leaky gut’ which can affect neurotransmission and therefore disrupt normal sleep patterns.
Poor gut health has a reverberating impact throughout the body and manifests itself in a whole range of symptoms with poor quality sleep being just one of them. To determine the health of your gut, a qualified practitioner can undertake a number of tests including stool and blood samples as well as allergy testing to assess whether your gut microbiome requires rebalancing. This is done through adjusting eating habits, potentially cutting out foods that are triggering an autoimmune response and by taking appropriate probiotics to repopulate the good bacteria of your gut.
If you are suffering from chronic pain, it may be dulled during the day by staying busy with daily activities only to return during the night when there are no further distractions to keep the pain at bay. Back pain is the most common cause of chronic pain and the main cause among disability in under 45-year-olds due to sedentary lifestyles, poor posture and other daily habits. Over half of adults with chronic back pain report that it causes disruptions to their sleep as it feeds into a vicious circle whereby the pain yields poor sleep which in turn hampers the body’s immune response and makes the pain worse thus making sleep even harder to achieve. Restorative sleep is needed for the immune system and cognitive functions to perform properly and therefore handle chronic pain effectively.
Diagnosing the root cause of your chronic pain is the first step to addressing it which requires a thorough physical examination by a qualified doctor and physical therapist to assess your pain triggers. Depending on your individual circumstances, your chronic pain may be treated through physical therapy, movement therapy, medical massage or acupuncture. Restorative medicine may also be useful in healing worn out and damaged joints and tendons that are the root cause of your discomfort.
If you are having trouble achieving a good night’s sleep, contact Seraphim Medical Center to arrange for a consultation with our expert medical team who come from a diverse range of medical backgrounds to be able to offer a holistic view. Do not continue to suffer from poor sleep, find out the root cause and get back to living in optimal health.