Got Insomnia? Try This First
The Mindful Tech Lifestyle writes:
"Just about everyone has experienced a night or two of restless sleep, and so you know how awful it can be to be so tired yet unable to shut down and fall asleep."
One thing I did to help myself get a better night's sleep was to adopt a Paleo or Keto diet low in sugars. Additionally, I avoid food that is not organic since glyphosate is known to be an endocrine disruptor as well as disrupting the beneficial bacteria in our guts, also known as our "second brain." And finally, I use several wonderful herbs such as passionflower and skullcap about three nights a week to get into a really deep sleep.
Here's how it works.
"The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. "A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one's moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above," according to Dave Asprey.
"For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals."
In my experience, depression and insomnia go hand in hand in many cases.
Daily exercise can help, as well as a good probiotic and, surprisingly, NAC is also helpful for insomnia.
As Dave Asprey writes:
"Gut bacteria can produce toxins that interfere with your brain function."
Furthermore, the School of Applied Functional Medicine states:
"Biochemically, there are two key processes which our clients must master each night in order to sleep well:
- Secreting Melatonin. And in particular, secreting enough melatonin to overcome their level of cortisol. An adrenal stress hormone, cortisol should naturally be low at night, allowing melatonin to become dominant in brain receptors. Our behavioral choices affect cortisol levels directly.
- Shifting from Glutamate to GABA. When we are wide awake during the day, Glutamate is the dominant neurotransmitter which is stimulatory. At night, GABA, our primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, should become dominant. Sufficient GABA inhibits neural transmissions enough to allow sleep. Our behavioral choices affect this balance.
Reduce stress by understanding and prioritizing their primary foods. When we expose our brains at night to full-spectrum light – which mimics daylight – the pineal gland secretes less melatonin which can delay or prevent sleep. This includes TV and computer screens. Individuals with chronically elevated stress, who have recently endured great trauma/crisis, or who suffer from inflammatory disorders may also have inappropriately high levels of cortisol at night. When we expose our brains to highly stimulatory activity such as video games, unsettling email, stressful discussions, or alarming/violent television, we promote more secretion of the stimulatory neurotransmitter glutamate.
Please choose only dim-light, relaxing activities in the evening, especially the full 1-2 hours prior to bedtime e.g. warm bath, calming music, meditation, gratitude journaling, light and fun reading.
Most people have no idea how much they might be impairing their sleep by doing email or searching the web for a couple of hours leading right up to bedtime. These simple things matter!
(Here is a patient/client handout about Sleep Hygiene that you can use.)
As bedtime nears, the brain should naturally make a smooth transition from predominantly glutamate to predominantly GABA, the most prevalent inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This transition can be impaired and/or delayed in our clients who are chronically stressed, have genetic impairment in the ability to balance neurotransmitters, and/or have neural toxicity e.g. mercury. We can gently boost this transition and thus calm the brains of clients wide awake with “racing minds” by supporting them with two key amino acids about 6o minutes prior to bedtime (both together, on an empty stomach):
- N-acetyl cysteine. This amino acid suppresses the brain’s synthesis of glutamate and promotes conversion to GABA. I recommend 5oo-1ooomg NAC.
- Passionflower: The Passion Flower name derived from the supposed resemblance of the finely-cut corona in the centre of the blossoms to the "Crown of Thorns" and of the other parts of the flower to the instruments of the "Passion of Our Lord".
Passiflora incarnata has a perennial root, and the herbaceous shoots bear three-lobed, finely serrated leaves and flesh-coloured or yellowish, sweet-scented flowers, tinged with purple. The ripe, orange-coloured, ovoid, many-seeded berry is about the size of a small apple; when dried, it is shrivelled and greenish-yellow. The yellow pulp is sweet and edible.
Skullcap: Skullcap has a calming and relaxing effect on the body and can be used during the day to restore balance to an overworked individual or in the evening to promote normal, healthy sleep.
You may also like to try Chinese Scullcap