As a follow-up to my “Stress, Friend or Foe” Newsletter last month, I thought it would be appropriate to write about a topic that is an epidemic in our society, at least our American society, which is Insomnia. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for as little as three nights per week for at least two consecutive weeks up to three months. Insomnia becomes chronic when it occurs at least three nights a week for more than three months.
One in four Americans develop Insomnia each year!
Insomnia has a profound effect human health where it can actually shorten your Telomers, which shortens your lifespan (link below), it can cause cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, it can increase your risk for Hypertension, Diabetes, Heart Attack, Obesity, Depression and more. What is challenging for people who don’t sleep is being told that Insomnia is bad for your health and you need to fix it. Don’t we all really know this and want to find a solution for our sleep? The desire to sleep is not the issue, it’s much more complex and we certainly know that when you worry about getting more sleep, it simply perpetuates the problem.
Another reason for my timing on this Newsletter is that in April of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning label to a few nutraceutical companies warning them to stop producing the product Phenibut, which is a supplemental sleep aid that supports gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to promote a calming effect and to help one sleep. The FDA alleges that Phenibut “does not meeting the definition of a dietary ingredient so it cannot be sold as a supplement” despite no reported adverse events or reports it is unsafe. Therefore, as a result, Neuroscience and Biotics and other companies who have produced Phenibut products safely for years, have discontinued their production of Kavinace Ultra PM and PheniTropic PM.
Considering this has been my favorite sleep aid of choice for many years for myself and my clients, I am invested in helping find other solutions for sleep support.
The reason Phenibut works is because it is a GABA derivative, the strongest inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain which has calming effects. An imbalance of GABA with the excitatory neurotransmitters is one reason for Insomnia, but there are other, as I will explain below.
Many Causes of Sleep Issues
Stress and Anxiety are foundational in why many Americans cannot sleep. When the Adrenal glands make excessive cortisol or not enough cortisol, your sleep will likely be disrupted (see my May Newsletter for more information).
Excessive Glutamate which is a non-essential amino acid that is manufactured from Glutamine and can be help with memory and learning, however it can become over-activated when eating foods such as “MSG”, which is Monosodium Glutamate. This is a food flavoring which can be hidden in the label as other names. This is used as a flavoring in many processed and fast foods and it is an Excitatory Neurotransmitter. In fact, it can be so excitatory it causes neuronal excitotoxicity, where the neurons die (think Aspartame and sugar free foods and drinks too!) The body is always trying to achieve homeostasis as I have mentioned before so when the Glutamate goes up, the GABA goes down and you have Anxiety and Insomnia as a result.
Compromised receptor sites can affect your ability for your neuronal cells to work properly. Inhibitors of receptor sites include; plastics, pesticides, herbicides, GMO foods “glyphosates” to name a few, so avoiding these are key in getting the cells to work properly. It may be necessary to “detoxify” from these chemicals as well using products such as using Milk Thistle, NAC “cysteine”, Glycine and more. Increasing beet intake in your diet can help as well.
Lack of Precursors to make Serotonin, Melatonin and GABA, which are all Inhibitory Neurotransmitters that help you sleep. The cofactors to help with the conversion process are also key, which are Vitamin B6 and Magnesium. If you are deficient in these you may not convert the glutamate to GABA. Vitamin B6 is also key to convert Tryptophan (5 HTP) to Serotonin which converts to Melatonin. If you are low in serotonin, you can’t down regulate to the Melatonin which is why adding 5 HTP can support more melatonin and a better sleep as a result.
Melatonin deficiency can result in poor sleep. Melatonin is a hormone made in our Pineal gland that regulates our sleep-wake cycle and helps us relax and repair our tissues, it has antiviral, antibacterial, immune modulating and anti-oxidant effects. Unfortunately, Melatonin declines starting age 20 years and is especially affected by light pollution. The typical doses are 3-5mg but the anti-cancer dose studied has been 20mg! Melatonin is best as an extended release as it has a short half-life. The Melatonin will balance cortisol so if we increase melatonin the cortisol decreases, and inversely if you have low melatonin our bodies will compensate by making more cortisol.
Lack of trace minerals needed to buffer an acidic chemistry. By correcting for a low (acidic) pH, this allows enzymes and neurotransmitters to work at their best, especially the mineral Lithium and Magnesium. Lithium at a dose of at least 150mcg of elemental Lithium nightly. Magnesium is a common mineral deficiency and over 300 enzymatic processes are dependent on Magnesium (Glycinate or Orotate are typically the best forms and typical dose is based on weight so for a 150lb div 2.2= 68kg x10= 680mg daily dose). Studies show over 50% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium and this is not surprising considering our soil is increasingly depleted of important minerals our bodies need. For ideas on how to reduce acidity in your body, please check out my Alkalizing handout in the P2P portal library. *we can test for minerals in the urine or in blood RBC levels
Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s) Turn off cell phones as night and routers as well please!
Excess Copper and not enough Zinc to balance it.
Abnormal Blood Sugar, as both high or low blood sugar can trigger excess glutamate and impair GABA production. If blood sugar drops, you can make more cortisol to balance and the rise in cortisol can wake you up. Conversely, if cortisol is too low, you are more inflamed as you lack your natural ability to fight daily inflammation, and then you are uncomfortable which can promote a restless sleep. Therefore, I like to test cortisol before treating, as low and high cortisol can cause similar issues and yet the treatment is very different. Supporting your diet is helpful and so if you are low cortisol you may need a bedtime snack and make sure you have regular snacks in the day. If high cortisol, it could be stress or from eating inflammatory foods. I suggest an Anti-Inflammatory Diet for most everyone. Inositol is a natural supplement that can support sleep and blood sugar dysregulation.
Environmental and behavior factors, such as getting to bed too late, watching / working on WiFi and electronics too late, room too cold or too hot, light, phone and TV on in the bedroom and reading on a bright Ipad or monitor. They call this practicing good “sleep hygiene” and it is critical when working with insomnia or in preventing Insomnia.
Food intolerances trigger inflammation so if the gut is on “fire” likely the brain is too. Try an Anti-inflammatory Diet for at least 4 weeks but 3 months is better.
High Histamine Diet can cause inflammation and histamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter so changing to an Antihistamine Diet for those clients can help the sleep by balancing the brain and inflammation.
Hormonal changes and fluctuations, especially the hormones estrogen (works with Serotonin receptors) and progesterone (works at the GABA receptors).
I truly hope this information can give you additional tools to work with in promoting a more relaxed and restful sleep. Below I will give you a few more additional resources to help you in this area. May you sleep well so that you can feel healthy, youthful and energetic again!!!
Extra suggestions, treatments, products and reads:
Acupuncture- there are abundant clinicians in town who can help in this area
One specific resource is Damiana Corca who is excellent at sleep and focuses on this at her Corca Center https://corcasleepcenter.com/
Cognitive Therapy / EMDR if insomnia is due to Trauma (contact me for a referral)
Hypnotherapy a local provider referral is Kelly Bearer http://www.kellybearer.com/
Neurotransmitter testing and one company I use and trust is ZRT https://zrtlab.com/test-specialties/neurotransmitters/
EMF The Non-Tinfoil Guide EMF
Grounding Mat https://www.amazon.com/Grounded-Beauty-Ground-Therapy-Sleep/dp/B072HTSW9L/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=grounding+mat&qid=1559157133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&smid=A3HGVW9566C7NT
Aromatherapy diffusers with Lavender Young Living and Doterra are high quality essential oil companies who carry diffusers as well as the oils https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/products/c/essential-oil-products?msclkid=839e1ae878f813400c544606a4baaa20&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search%20-%20YL%20-%20General%20-%20M%20-%20US%20%5BExact%5D%20-%20B&utm_term=young%20living&utm_content=Young%20Living%20Essential%20Oils
Blue Blocker eye glasses For example the brand Swannies below
Meditation and utilizing guided sessions can be helpful when you start, such as Head Space, Relaxing Melodies Biurnal Beats to help your body get into the Delta or Theta Sleep Wave
CBD can be helpful for some people but at times it’s simply not enough and one needs the THC to active the cannabinoid receptors more specifically. https://www.quicksilverscientific.com/blog/full-spectrum-or-broad-spectrum-how-do-you-prefer-your-hemp-extract/
Glutamate and MSG -Dr. Russell Blaylock on MSG and Aspartame as an Excitotoxin https://www.naturalnews.com/035243_Russell_Blaylock_MSG_interview.html
Anti-inflammatory eating program https://consciouscleanse.com/