When you uncover the underlying causes for sleep issues, sleep-natural remedies actually work. This is the key to sleeping better when you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep continuously not responding well to various therapies, medications, supplements, or herbs.
We have explored a few of the underlying causes for sleep issues in the first part of the “Sleep-Natural Remedies” article.
Let’s explore five more underlying causes for sleep issues.
Sleep and insomnia natural remedies that work
In this second part we will continue to look deeper at some of the other root causes to solving your sleep issues. I see these underlying issues often come up in people who can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. If the sleep issues are tackled with sedating therapies only, they can be stubborn to heal.
Inflammatory foods and food sensitivities in sleep issues
Eating is something we do every day, therefore it holds a lot of power. Food gives our bodies nutrition but if the food is not as healthy as it could be or if we have food sensitivities that we are not even aware of, it can also have a negative impact on our health and sleep.
A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet is the best long-term gift you can give yourself. Sometimes, we use food to satisfy ourselves and drown the daily stress – I know this to be true for many people including myself. But we have to ask ourselves, what feels good right now and also what feels good a few hours from now? If we pay attention enough, we notice for example how eating a sugary meal feels great now, but a couple of hours later we feel tired and we want more of it, yet again.
A healthy anti-inflammatory diet provides all the nutrients we need and is void, as much as possible, of foods that spike your blood sugar, create inflammation in the gut, gives you acid reflux, and causes irregular bowel movements (just to give you a few examples of imbalances).
What is a healthy looking plate? Half the plate is filled with vegetables, a quarter protein, and another quarter carbs. All this, plus some healthy fat, foods rich in fiber, and some wonderful spices.
Each individual is unique but the most common foods I find people to be sensitive to are gluten, dairy products, eggs, and soy. Doing an elimination diet for 30 days with a reintroduction of one type of food every 3 days can give us an idea of which foods your body has a hard time dealing with.
Working with your diet can support your sleep quality immensely, though the improvement may take a little time. Once you stop the foods that your body has a hard time with, it takes at least a few weeks for the inflammation to reduce, so that then you can start sleeping better and better.
Blood sugar imbalances healing for sleep
Blood sugar ups and downs can affect your sleep negatively. If you don’t have steady blood sugar and you fall into hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) at night, you will wake up and have a hard time going back to sleep. The brain needs a steady amount of blood sugar and in your body’s attempt to raise the blood sugar, the hormone cortisol is summoned, which will wake you up.
A common scenario that can cause either trouble falling asleep or waking up after a few hours of sleep is due to reactive hypoglycemia – you eat a rich carbohydrate dinner, your blood sugar spikes as a result of this meal, then about 4 hours later the blood sugar drops quite significantly going into the hypoglycemic range and prevents you from falling asleep by feeling anxious and agitated, or if you’ve fallen asleep, you may wake up and not know why.
Or, your body may have trouble with getting your blood sugar down at healthy fasting levels, especially at night. If your blood sugar stays too high throughout the night, this can cause sleep issues and insomnia. Higher amounts of blood sugar are excitatory and don’t allow your body to settle into a good sleep.
If you want to dive deeper into this subject and understand more about blood sugar imbalances and sleep issues, read my article “The Connection Between Your Blood Sugar And Your Sleep Issues”.
Nutritional deficiencies for sleep issues
You may already be aware that your diet can affect your sleep, but what about various nutrients? We often get various nutrients that we need from our diet and when some of these crucial nutrients are low, sleep is spotty, not good quality and simply not satisfying.
Some of the vitamins or minerals that I see deficient in people with sleep issues are vitamin B12, B6, D, zinc, iron and magnesium. This is certainly not a complete list, but just a few examples.
Let’s explore two of them – zinc and vitamin B6. I am going to explore these two from the genetic point of view as well – when this vitamin and mineral get depleted because of genetic variants. However, these can be low even when no genetic variants are at play, but rather a diet that doesn’t supply sufficient amounts.
Vitamin B6 and zinc metabolism can be affected by certain genetic variants and cause pyroluria. Pyroluria, or pyrrole disorder, is a genetic condition in which a person accumulates large amounts of pyrroles, which are unable to excrete. These pyrroles tend to bind to vitamin B6 and zinc, so when there are large amounts circulating in the body, you will excrete too much B6 and zinc, leaving not enough for important roles such as helping in the conversion of neurotransmitters.
Chronic stress seems to play a role in this disorder. This could be because cortisol stimulates red blood cell breakdown and therefore increases pyrroles. Another possibility that I have seen in my practice, and which is in need of research, is that people who have variants in the UGT1A1 gene and have Gilbert’s syndrome may also have pyroluria. If you find your bilirubin is elevated in blood tests, this syndrome is something to look into.
If you have some of the symptoms below, it might be worth getting tested for pyroluria: anxiety (especially social anxiety), insomnia, irritability, explosive anger, ADD, ADHD, little to no dream recall, frequent infections, white spots on the fingernails, sensitivity to light, odors, and sounds, behavioral issues.
This is just one example to show you the ramifications of nutrient deficiencies and how our body is so complex. Sleep issues can be healed with natural remedies, just as long as we understand what the root cause is.
Healing EBV reactivation as a sleep-natural remedy
When people come in to see me they are often exhausted from being sleep deprived. They often think that if they would just sleep, their energy would be good again. Sometimes we find out that the fatigue actually is only partially due to sleep deprivation and rather that both the fatigue and the sleep issues are directly affected but the reactivation of the EBV (Epstein Barr virus).
EBV is a virus that is present in over 98 percent of the human population. Most of us are infected as kids. EBV is the virus responsible for causing mononucleosis.
The main symptom for chronic EBV infection is fatigue. It may also show up with chronic cyclical sore throat, swollen glands, anxiety, or a chronically slightly elevated fever. Reactivated EBV can be often seen in people who also have Lyme disease.
The reactivated Epstein-Barr virus is important when it comes to sleep because it tends to affect the body over time in various ways. It can affect the function of neurotransmitters, the sympathetic system, and it can mess with the cortisol levels. It increases inflammatory markers affecting the body overall, which causes an activated stress response and insomnia. It may also affect your sleep by altering gut function and it may keep you up because it causes your body temperature to be slightly elevated.
Mold colonization and sleep issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea
Mold exposure and toxicity is a lot more common than we think and can be one of the underlying causes for sleep issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea. If you have the genetic variants that make you less able to clear this toxicity, you are unfortunately more likely to get sick.
Some people are aware of being exposed to a moldy environment. But many others are completely unaware of it. It may be hiding in a wall, or in a swamp cooler, or a closet. It might not be visible to the naked eye and we might not even be able to smell it (or if we do, we become used to it and cannot identify it as a musty or moldy smell).
There are two types of reactions that people have to mold. Some people have an allergic reaction, which is an IgE reaction of the immune system that usually leads to asthma and allergies as the main symptoms. The second possible reaction is mold sensitivity, which is less understood by the medical community, but nonetheless the cause of health struggles for many people. In this case, the body is incapable of eliminating the mold toxins properly and the mold colonizes in places such as the sinuses, lungs, or the GI system.
You may experience (especially initially) runny nose, sneezing, asthma, cough, bloating, abdominal pain, loose stools, or diarrhea. These symptoms will persist, or with some people they morph into chronic sinus issues, brain fog, memory issues, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, neurological symptoms, headaches, joint pain, urination problems, or eye problems and sensitivities.
Sleep-natural remedies – how to make them work for you
In this article of sleep-natural remedies, along with part I of this article, we explored some deeper underlying causes of why you can’t sleep well at night.
I believe that healing is always available, provided that we understand what is causing the problem to begin with. Figuring out why you can’t sleep is not always easy so I always recommend that you team up your efforts with a practitioner so you can identify what would be most helpful for you.
If you’d like to look more into why you can’t sleep well, schedule a free consultation or an initial session (local in Colorado, or long distance anywhere in the world).
Please note that this is not medical advice, but a conversation starter with your doctor.