Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as needed. It can affect people of any age. However, the older you get, the more likely insomnia becomes. Anyone can have a sleepless night or two once in a while. But, if insomnia is becoming a regular occurrence, here is information about possible causes, and how to help yourself.

Insomnia can be caused by:

  • Stress,
  • Anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Over stimulation before bed
  • Also,Looking at computer, laptop, phone or ipad screens within an hour or two of bed (due to the type of light off the screen)
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Insomnia can lead to:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased stress
  • Or the inability to handle stress
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Mood problems
  • Weakened immune system
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • As well as inability to focus

Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury

The medicines to treat insomnia can be costly and have side effects

Costs for regular use of the most common medications can run anywhere from $777.60 per year for Lunesta to $1908.00 per year for Ambien.

Some side effects from insomnia medications can be:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Some people suffer abnormal thinking
  • Other people experience behavior changes
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Fainting
  • Fast or irregular heart beat
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory problems
  • Mental or mood changes

Nutritional supplements that may help with insomnia

Calcium: low levels of calcium are known to be a factor in frequent night awakenings. Low calcium levels also can cause muscle cramps or contribute to restless leg symptoms. Calcium has a calming effect on the nervous system easing muscle tension and anxiety feelings, This makes it easier to fall asleep. Calcium works by helping your body convert tryptophan (found in foods like turkey or eggs) into serotonin which helps control sleep. Serotonin, is converted to melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle.

Magnesium: Magnesium is another mineral nutrient that may ease restless leg or leg cramp symptoms. Magnesium helps your body’s cells absorb and use calcium properly. When taken together, these minerals help relax muscles, relieve painful cramps or spasms and bring on restful sleep.

Vitamin B12: B12 deficiency may be a factor if you have trouble falling or staying asleep. B12 supports the production of serotonin which affects brain function and sleep. It does this by helping metabolize calcium and magnesium. It works with them to convert tryptophan into serotonin.

Vitamin D: Most Americans have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in supporting the body’s ability to use calcium and magnesium. It also helps your sleep/wake cycle.

There are herbal extracts that can help. However, if you take medications it would be wise to only take herbs under direction of someone with training on herb/drug interactions to be safe.

Eating Guidelines

Foods that cause inflammation makes insomnia worse. Eating an anti-inflammation diet and taking the proper nutritional supplements can help.

Recommended:

  • Organic dark leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables
  • Organic fruits
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Organic eggs and poultry
  • Unrefined, cold pressed olive oil and coconut oil
  • Organic butter

Acceptable:

  • Whole grains and legumes (rice, quinoa, lentils, beans, etc)
  • Non-organic fruits and vegetables
  • Non-organic poultry and eggs
  • Farm-raised fish
  • Organic, grass fed red meat
  • Refined olive oil and  coconut oil
  • Unrefined natural sweeteners: honey, pure maple syrup, agave, etc)

Off limits

  • Dairy products
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Refined grains, flours and sugars
  • Processed foods, fast foods and junk foods
  • Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Large amounts of red meat

What else can you do?

Regular chiropractic care

  • helps reduce tension on the nervous system
  • it also eases muscle tension
  • and it releases relaxing brain endorphins
  • chiropractic is known for easing musculoskeltal pains
  • most people find they sleep better after their chiropractic adjustment

This blog is taken from the article: Help Your Patients Manage their Insomnia by Todd G. Singleton, DC in the June 2017 The American Chiropractor magazine.