I truly hate insomnia. Personally, I feel there is a short window of time that if I don’t go to bed, right then and there, it’s over. I am then wide awake for another 3-4 hours looking at my bedside alarm clock every 10 minutes.
Women require more sleep than men; the elderly sleep less at night, but doze more during the day.
It is at that time all my thoughts and worries of the day come flooding through my head. Good and bad. All the aches and pains of my body gently, or not so gently, remind me that they are still there. Is it no wonder we can’t sleep?
But we are not alone. According to the NIH, “It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness, hindering daily functioning and adversely affecting health and longevity.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/)
There are 10 billion nerve cells in the cerebral cortex of our brain. Each of these nerve cells communicates with approximately 10,000 other nerve cells, that then send between 100-300 communications a second.
Sleep is vital to our health. It is needed for our memory and body to function at is best. When we finally reach a deep sleep, our blood pressure drops, breathing becomes slower, muscles relax, there is increased blood supply to muscles, and tissue growth and repair occur to our body.
When we don’t have a healthy sleep-wake cycle, we are vulnerable to developing immune (illness or infection), endocrine (hormones), and thermal (temperature) function issues. Women require more sleep than men; the elderly sleep less at night but doze more during the day.
There are 10 billion nerve cells in the cerebral cortex of our brain. Each of these nerve cells communicates with approximately 10,000 other nerve cells, that then send between 100-300 communications a second. Chronic pain, such as Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP), complicates the situation further. They cause needless noise to the nerve cells and can contribute to chronic sleep deprivation, which is a very dangerous condition. Many who suffer from Interstitial Cystitis (IC), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis also struggle to sleep due to pain. Just one night of sleep deprivation affects the adrenal secretion for the next day. When the adrenals are affected, they release cortisol and adrenaline and it can take days to weeks for the body and cortisol levels to adjust.
But it is not just pain that keeps you awake at night. Be sure to check that the following are not contributing to your insomnia: certain prescription medication side effects; herbs; supplements; caffeine; recreational and over the counter medications; alcohol; thyroid preparations; oral contraceptives; beta blockers; marijuana; coffee; tea; chocolate; sleep apnea; Restless Leg Syndrome; and Narcolepsy. Additional causes of insomnia include calcium, magnesium, and B vitamin deficiencies.
With so many factors affecting our sleep, it is no wonder that approximately 30% of our population has struggled with insomnia at some point in time.
So, what can you do?
In my next blog entry, I will share different therapeutic considerations you can try with the hopes you will get a good nights sleep.
Starlanyl, Devin and Mary Ellen Copeland. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain A Survival Manual, second edition, New Harbinger Publication, 1996
Thiel Ph.d., Thiel J. Combining Old and New Naturopathy for the 21st Century, Whitman Publications 2000
Pizzorno Jr, Joseph E., Michael T. Murray, and Herb Joiner-Bey. The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, second edition. Churchhill Livingstone Elsevier 2002