Sleep is integral to good health. Unfortunately, many patients report trouble with having good-quality, uninterrupted sleep.This past summer I experienced a few weeks of lost sleep and it left me feeling irritable and panicky.
Lost sleep messes with multiple internal functions. This creates a cascade of events that can cause increased fat storage, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, depression and anxiety, hormonal imbalances, and even a decline in cognitive performance.
American adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night. It is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages. Because sleep deprivation is linked to increased health risk, sleeplessness has become a public health concern.
Root of Sleeplessness
At the root of sleep troubles may be a number of underlying problems
Lack of precursors to make neurotransmitters that stimulate sleep
Some people’s unique genetic variants or their poor diets suggest they don’t have enough of the right vitamins, minerals, or amino acids to make neurotransmitters that support sleep. Some require activated B-complex vitamins and minerals in absorb-able forms. Others require additional amino acids such as L-theanine or L-tryptophan.
The food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the most common source of excess glutamate. MSG is used as a flavor enhancer commonly found in American-style Chinese food, canned soups and vegetables, and processed meats. MSG can also be found naturally in many foods, including tomatoes, cheeses, mushrooms, seaweed, and soy.
Anxiety and stress
Chronic stress and anxiety not only affect sleep but making stress hormones becomes the body’s primary task at the expense of multiple other functions including digestion and cellular repair. Do whatever works to decrease your stress levels. Meditation and prayer, exercise, connecting with nature, laughing more, and seeking help are all good choices.
Staying up too late, getting up too early, sleeping in a room that is too hot or too cold can all affect sleep. Working shifts that require sleeping during the day or sleeping in a room with too much light affects others. Going to bed and getting up at the same time helps.
Some folks are quite sensitive to the multiple electronic devices that surround us and create electromagnetic fields around us. One hundred years ago there were not networks of electricity that humans had to live with. Now we have multiple televisions, wireless networks, cellular telephones, computers, and gaming systems. If you have trouble sleeping you may want to consider taking the TV out of the bedroom, putting electronic protection devices on your laptops and handheld electronics, and keeping your cellphone and electronic clocks away from your head at night. You might consider turning off your devices at least an hour before bed.
In my nutritional evaluations we discuss quality of sleep. Many of my patients, including my husband, report an improvement in sleep quality. I figured out that my sleep was disturbed because I needed to add more minerals. I added extra calcium and magnesium lactate at bed and my sleep improved. I can help you figure out which combination of factors is affecting your sleep. Let me know if I can help.