Having trouble falling asleep, not sleeping deeply or waking up frequently during the night? You’re not alone, 1 in 3 people struggle with insomnia in their lifetime. Reasons for insomnia can be as straightforward as a stressful day or as complicated as hormone changes. But before you turn to that prescription for a quick fix (and a host of side effects), check out these common insomnia causes and their natural solutions.
The Problem: Hormone changes can wreak havoc on sleep. The hormone changes that come with perimenopause and menopause in women, and andropause in men can bring on trouble falling asleep, frequent night waking, or poor quality of sleep in general. If your problem is falling asleep, then low progesterone is the first place to look. Symptoms of low progesterone like trouble falling asleep can be the first sign of hormone changes, because progesterone is both a stress hormone and a sex hormone and tends to be depleted more easily. Trouble staying asleep is often the result of fluctuating estrogen levels, and when estrogen drops lower than progesterone, it wakes you. If your issue is daytime sleepiness and poor quality sleep, then low testosterone may be to blame. Low testosterone can also cause sleep apnea.
The Solution: The first step to hormone balance is test, don’t guess. UNI KEY offers saliva hormone testing to help you determine your individual needs. Once you are armed with this information, if you are a woman who wants to do more research, Ann Louise Gittleman’s newly revised Before the Change: Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause can help you feel sexy, slim and sleeping better with simple lifestyle changes and bioidentical hormone support. Before you turn to hormone supplementation for low testosterone, consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Intermittent Fasting to raise testosterone levels and lose belly fat.
The Problem: Eating too many carbohydrates (carbs) and not enough protein and fat leads to blood sugars cycling up and down all day, and this causes excessive eating, weight gain, and a rise in insulin levels. High insulin levels and insulin resistance are linked to poor quality sleep and insomnia.
The Solution: Simple changes in diet lead to big changes in blood sugar. Eating more protein and healthy fats and not eating carbs alone helps level out blood sugars and eliminates the spikes in both blood sugar and insulin. Avoid sugary drinks and limit alcohol intake, start your day with a good quality protein powder in a smoothie, replace high carb snacks with protein like nuts and seeds, and add mild to moderate exercise like walking to burn the carbs you do eat.
The Problem: Late night scrolling through social media, binge watching Netflix, reading an e-book, or watching the news right before trying to sleep are all robbing you of this essential sleep hormone – melatonin. Those screens all have one thing in common – a higher concentration of blue light than natural light – and this wavelength of light suppresses your levels of melatonin more than any other. The body’s natural clock, its Circadian rhythm, is ruled by light exposure, and blue light at night can delay your ability to sleep well into morning. Repeated exposure can cause a reset of your Circadian rhythm causing long-term insomnia.
The Solution: Unplug your bedroom and keep it as dark as possible. No blue light exposure for 2 hours prior to when you want to sleep. If you can’t live without a screen before bed, some devices have blue light blocking apps you can install for evening viewing, or you can buy blue-blocking glasses to wear. Help reset your Circadian rhythm by supplementing with melatonin. Doses of 3-6 milligrams at bedtime can help you fall asleep, and a time-released formula like UNI KEY’s can help you stay asleep all night.
Wired But Tired
The Problem: If you have daytime fatigue but get a second wind in the evening and stay up late wide awake, adrenal fatigue is behind your symptoms. In this case, cortisol levels are often low in the morning and afternoon but high in the evening, which is the opposite of what they should be. Adrenal fatigue comes from long-term emotional or physical stress causing wear and tear on the adrenals, the small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. The other cause of this wired but tired syndrome is excessive use of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine. Their use late in the day is especially problematic for sleep.
The Solution: Cut the caffeine and nicotine, or at least limit use to mornings only if you can’t quite kick the habit yet. Practice stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, yoga, and walking. Lavender essential oil diffused in the bedroom can calm cortisol levels and relax you for sleep. Supplement with an Adrenal Formula with Vitamin C, pantothenic acid, adaptogenic herbs and glandular extracts to support adrenal health and bring Circadian rhythms back online.