Do you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or frequently awake throughout the night? Do you sleep through the night and not awaken rested?
Chronic sleep deprivation is becoming more common in our culture today with an increase of demands on the body and nervous system. Human beings are constantly on the go and do not take time from their hectic schedule to rest the body. If a healthy individual has just one week of sleep debt, insulin sensitivity will decrease, thyroid rhythms will become imbalanced and there will be a surge of nighttime cortisol.
Approximately 30% of the population suffers from insomnia at any given time. Each year five to six million people receive sedative hypnotics for sleeping. Almost 50% of diagnosed insomnia cases are related to psychological sleep factors found in sleep labs.
Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? According to the American Association of Sleep Apnea, the most common cause of sleeplessness is sleep deprivation. Sleeplessness can take the form of the inability to go to sleep when you first entering bed or waking up throughout the night and being unable to fall back asleep.
Insomnia can be caused by a number of circumstances:
- Prescription drugs
- Physical pain
- Overabundant of stress
- Circadian rhythm imbalances like jet leg or night shiftwork
- Environmental changes
- Affective disorders
- Stimulants known to interfere with sleep:
- Thyroid medications
- Birth control pills
- Caffeinated coffee or tea
Insomnia is a disruption of REM sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle is approximately 90-120 minutes for most individuals. There are two distinct forms of sleep: REM and non-REM. These are based on EEG recordings and eye movements. REM sleep is where the eyes move rapidly and the person is dreaming during the night. Non-REM sleep has stages four stages (1-4) and is based on the ease of arousal and the level of EEG activity. As sleep advances through the night, the sleep deepens and there is slower brain wave activity until REM sleep is attained. The longer the individual is asleep there is an increase in REM cycles. Most adults have greater than five sleep cycles nightly.
Naturopaths recognize that sleep is like a barometer. When someone consistently struggles to sleep, this is a sign that the body is not in homeostasis and needs to be clinically evaluated. A thorough health history and examination needs to be completed. There may be a nutrient or physiological imbalances within the body. Insomnia may be a symptom presented for a more serious condition. Please seek help from your medical practitioner.
In the beginning, treatment can be conservative. A patient's drug, psychological, nutritional and environmental factors should first be addressed. More aggressive measures should be taken if the conservative approach is not creating the desired outcomes of increased sleep. Other therapies that may be indicated for insomnia include but are not limited to:
- Stress reduction techniques like biofeedback or hypnosis
- Exercise - perform in morning or early evening and not close to bedtime
- Relaxation techniques
- Blood sugar balancing
- Nutritional assessment
- Nutritional supplementation
- Botanical medicine
- Homeopathic medicine
- Immersion bath therapy
- Constitutional hydrotherapy
- Electrical muscle stimulation
- Naturopathic manipulation
- Intravenous therapy
- Craniosacral therapy
- Lifestyle medicine
Wouldn't your life be more enjoyable if you were not struggling to stay awake and have an increase in focus and concentration because you, actually, slept at night and dreamed? Let's reverse these symptoms together to allow your body to heal while sleeping and awaken rested instead of being diagnosed with insomnia or sleep apnea.
Call Dr. Donahue today at 603-742-4114 so you no longer have to have sleepless nights.