Insomnia wasn’t a common problem 200 years ago. This isn’t surprising considering how much has changed since then.
There are three main reasons why so many of us have a hard time sleeping today.
When I saw “News of the World” with Tom Hanks, what struck me the most was how they were living. The movie is set in Texas right after the Civil War. He drove a wagon pulled by a horse. There was no electricity. The towns were muddy and dusty. This was less than 200 years ago. So much has changed so quickly.
Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb in the late 1800s, less than 150 years ago. Until then, people were using fire and oil lamps to stay awake after dark.
Two hundred years ago the Industrial Revolution started focusing on productivity and efficiency. That was also when the eight-hour work day was invented. Because of this, sleep became seen as a waste of time.
Now we drive cars across the country and fly on planes all over the world, things we weren’t able to do even 100 years ago. The amazing ability to fly across time zones faster than our bodies can adjust leads to even more sleep deprivation, jet lag and stress on our bodies.
It’s only in the past few decades that newer technology like computers, tablets and smartphones enable us to be awake and keep us wired all hours of the night.
It’s no wonder that we can’t sleep. Avoiding screens, especially before bed, can improve your sleep. But this change isn’t usually enough to help with chronic insomnia. That’s because of the other two reasons.
Our lives are go-go-go. Most of us wake up to an alarm clock and hit the ground running, getting ready for work and getting the kids out the door for school. Then we work, eat lunch at our desks and push through tiredness with lattes and pastries. Then we get home, make dinner, do the dishes and get ready for the next day. We finally fall into bed exhausted and then wonder why we can’t sleep.
When you’re busy all day you have elevated cortisol all day. When your cortisol is high all day, you’re more likely to have cortisol in your body at bedtime and during the night. Cortisol suppresses melatonin, your sleepy hormone, and keeps you awake.
Managing your stress during the day is critical to sleeping well at night. Taking recovery breaks from work throughout the day, doing stress-lowering activities like yoga and meditation, and taking time to wind down at night will help naturally lower your cortisol levels so you can rest peacefully.
Financial worries, being in an unhappy relationship and not liking your job also cause constant stress. That’s why I help my clients address all of these things that are contributing to their insomnia.
There can be things going on in your body that cause stress, too. You may not know that you have hormone imbalances, liver detox issues, food sensitivities, mineral imbalances, etc., but they cause stress in your body and make it constantly release cortisol.
Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone, so if you have inflammation at night, your body will release cortisol and keep you from sleeping.
Inflammation has three main sources:
Common inflammatory foods are gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and refined oils (grapeseed, canola, sunflower, etc.).
Eating foods you’re sensitive to causes inflammation, too. Even healthy foods like salmon and broccoli can be inflammatory if your body is reacting to them.
Eating an unbalanced diet for your metabolism can also cause inflammation. I help my clients find their perfect diet and balance their macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates) for their individual body. This helps lower their inflammation so their cortisol lowers and they can sleep better.
Your liver has to deal with all the toxins in your body. If your liver gets overburdened, those toxins keep circulating throughout your body causing lots of inflammation.
You can be exposed to over 2 million toxins a day from these things:
Personal care products
Pesticides and herbicides in food
Toxins in the air
BPA in plastics
You can minimize the amount of toxins your liver has to handle by using natural personal care products and cleaning supplies, buying organic food and drinking filtered water.
Making these changes can seem overwhelming, so I help my clients make simple changes one step at a time so it’s easier.
• Pathogen in your gut
A parasite like giardia, bacteria like H. pylori, and yeast such as candida excrete a lot of toxins which cause a lot of inflammation. And because these creatures are most active at night, they make your body release cortisol and wake you up, especially around 3 or 4 a.m.
I run a GI Map for all my clients to find out what’s living in their gut. Almost everyone has some sort of gut infection that’s contributing to their sleep issues. If you have trouble sleeping, your gut isn’t healthy. Testing is the only way to find out exactly what’s going on so we know what to fix.
The way to sleep better is to reduce screen time, reduce stress, and reduce inflammation. Functional lab testing is the way to find out what’s causing the hidden stress and inflammation in your body. If you can’t sleep and you’ve tried what seems like everything, there is an answer.
As always, wishing you a good night’s sleep.