Sleep Disorders affect men and women of all ages from childhood to the elderly. Insomnia can be related to either issues falling asleep (sleep onset) or issues staying asleep (sleep maintenance). Improper sleep is a major health concern as it can lead to hormone imbalances, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, poor growth and memory loss.
Sleep problems have a number of causes:
- Hormone imbalances
- Chronic Pain
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Caffeine or alcohol
- Changes in work schedule
- Sinus congestion
Testing hormones, neurotransmitters and treating underlying causes like pain and heartburn is important to improve sleep. Good sleep habits including a dark room, going to bed at the same time each night and making sure the room is dark has also been shown to improve sleep patterns.
Melatonin deficiency equates to a sleep that is superficial with difficulty falling and staying asleep. Legs are restless and muscles are tense, particularly at night. Growth Hormone deficiency causes a light sleep and an excessive need for sleep. Nervousness and anxiety related to this hormone deficiency can also negatively impact sleep. Thyroid deficiency causes muscle aches and pains along with foot cramps at night. Muscles often feel stiff in the morning. Cortisol deficiency reduces your ability to deal with stress, makes you irritable and anxious, all of which can prevent you from getting a good nights sleep. Progesterone deficiency increases muscle and nervous tension as well as anxiety. Estrogen deficiency leads to hot flashes and night sweats that interrupt sleep.
Once the underlying cause of sleep problems are identified, natural treatments such as botanical medicine and vitamins can be used to help establish a good sleep routine.
Poor sleep seems to be a plague of our society. We can blame our lack of sleep on our hectic and over stimulated lives, but when we take steps to mitigate those reasons and still have poor sleep, is there something else be to blame? Melatonin is the main hormone in charge of our sleep patterns, but many other hormone imbalances can affect our sleep as well.
Karen Spool is a patient who came to Dr. Nardella’s Calgary clinic with insomnia and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. She was also experiencing hair loss, lightheadedness and feeling emotionally unstable. Digestive problems were also among her concerns. Dr. Nardella initiated various naturopathic testing, including food sensitivities, hormone blood testing and saliva testing for stress hormones, sex hormones and melatonin. Based on these tests, therapies were started to address the imbalances found in her stress hormones and sex hormones. These included intravenous therapy, vitamin B12 shots, and supplementation to support her cortisol. Dietary changes were made based on her food sensitivities to reduce overall inflammation in her body.
Karen is now able to sleep better, has more energy for her family and better relationships because her emotions are more stable. Her digestive issues have resolved which has also decrease much stress in her life. With ongoing maintenance, as hormones are apt to change over time, Karen should continue to have a restful sleep and an emotionally balanced life.
Therapies Used for the Treatment of Sleep Disorders
- Pharmacological, Herbal and Nutrient Therapy
- Nutrition Optimization
- Massage Therapy