Everything You Need to Know About Helping Insomnia

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Most of us have experienced a restless night when you can not switch your brain off to fall sleep. However for some people, this is a regular occurrence — with no "rhyme or reason" as to the contributors of this sleeplessness. From a medical point of view, sleeping pills are the "answer". From a natural point of view, there are many reasons why sleeplessness may happen. Here are some of the common contributors to this.

Serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a brain chemical which determinates your sleep & wake cycle. Many things complete serotonin levels leading to deficiency symptoms such as insomnia, depression, anxiety & addictions. There are a number of ways you can develop a serotonin deficiency. These include taking recreational stimulant drugs such as P, Ecstasy & "party pills" which contain BZP. It can also happen to those who are on a high protein low carbohydrate diet, as we need carbohydrates to help produce serotonin. Another contributor to this deficiency is in people who do not go outside in the sunshine for an adequate time each day. Referred to as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or the winter blues, this condition is linked to light deprivation. To increase serotonin levels ensure you go outside in the sunlight for at least 20 minutes each day. You could also try the natural substance 5 HTP. This helps to boost serotonin levels & works very quickly, if a serotonin deficiency is the contributor to your sleeping problem.

Mineral deficiencies. The minerals magnesium & calcium are the main ones involved with helping us to unwind & relax more easily. Calcium coats nerves in the body & a deficiency of this vital mineral causes us to "jump at sounds" & be sensitive to noises. Magnesium is involved with the contraction & relaxation of muscles in the body & a deficiency of this contributor to symptoms such as muscle cramp, spasms, restless leg syndrome, eye flicks & an inability to shut your brain off at night to be able to sleep soundly . Magnesium is a mineral that can be difficult to get in adequate amounts through the diet, as many foods are void of this, due to refining processes. Many people use magnesium at a much faster rate than they can consume it & beverages that contain tannin & caffeine (tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine etc) interfere with the absorption of this mineral. Take a reverse ratio magnesium supplement, where there are 2 parts magnesium to 1 part calcium. All mineral supplements should contain adequate amounts of Zinc, which is vital for absorption.

Adrenal exhaustion. This is a common problem & one I treat every day. This happens when we do not eat regularly enough throughout the day & then use stimulants such as tea & coffee to give us a boost, rather than food. This process commonly happens in people who do not eat breakfast, who then have a caffeine in containing beverage in the morning. They may grab something quick for lunch that is high in fat & carbohydrates but low in protein. This causes fluctuations in their blood sugar levels & the body responds with an adrenal "hit" to pick them back up again. By the time they get home from work at night, there is so much adrenalin circulating through their blood stream that they can not even properly go to sleep. There is only 1 way to sort this problem out & that is to prevent the adrenal response altogether. To do this, eat within an an hour after waking & then each 2 h hours through the day. Each meal needs to contain some protein, as this is the "fuel" that sustains us for many hours. Protein comes from any animal products (meat, fish, eggs etc) & also nuts & seeds & soy products. Tins of tuna, salmon or a protein drink or protein bar are convenient choices which are quick to grab. Try having a multivitamin or a B complex for an energy boost, rather than caffeine.

Stimulants. Most of us consume far too many stimulants these days. These are found in coffee, tea, green tea, cocoa or products made from this, such as Milo or chocolate. They are also found in soft drinks containing caffeine, some pain relieving medication & recreational stimulant drugs, such as the over over the counter party pills containing BZP. If you are having a problem switching off at night to go to sleep, avoiding these stimulants is a must. Try the coffee like drinks called Ecco, Inka or Caro. These can all be drunk in a similar way to coffee, but are completely caffeine free. If you must have caffeine, have no more than 1 cup a day & even then, remind yourself that this is something you need to wean yourself off. Be prepared for the headache that can take 2 days to disappear!



Leanne James