Insomnia, your nervous system, and how I can help!
Sleep… it’s something we all need and we spend about a third of our time doing it, yet most of us don’t get enough!
Sleeplessness can have far-ranging effects on our body’s systems. Disrupting our metabolism, cognition, moods and energy.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is defined as short and poor quality sleep that affects your functioning during the day. Although the amount of sleep a person needs varies, most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night to feel refreshed.
If you have insomnia, you may:
* Lie awake for a long time and have trouble falling asleep
* Wake up a lot and have trouble returning to sleep
* Wake up too early in the morning
* Feel like you haven’t slept at all
Symptoms of insomnia become prominent when it interferes with daytime functioning. Lack of or poor quality sleep can affect daytime functions such as difficulty waking up in the morning. You may feel very sleepy and have low energy throughout the day, have trouble thinking clearly, and staying focused. Or, you might experience feelings of depression, anxiety or irritability
Insomnia can be mild to severe and varies in how often it occurs and how long it lasts. Acute insomnia is a short-term sleep problem that is generally related to a stressful or traumatic life event and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. With chronic insomnia, sleep problems occur at least 3 nights a week for more than a month.
Sleep can be altered because of anxiety, depression, substance use (such as caffeine or other stimulants), prescribed medication, or even organic medical conditions. Sleep can also be adversely affected by an identifiable known stressor in one’s life, such as the loss of a loved one or loss of a job. These stressful disruptions can then create imbalances in your hormones and neurotransmitters.
Insomnia and Your Nervous System:
The human nervous system is one of the most complex systems in nature, and is responsible for coordinating thousands of processes. The center of the nervous system is the brain, which contains very important chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. Neurotransmitters are also necessary for thought processes, emotions, and other essential body functions including sleep, energy, and fear.
Your brain maintains a “circadian clock” which regulates levels of adrenal hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, and controls patterns in body temperature, brainwave activity, and hormone production. This internal timekeeper is connected to changes in daylight, darkness, and the seasons, and resets itself according to shifts in the earth’s rotation.
Normally, these circadian rhythms and your adrenal glands work together to keep cortisol, a “wake-up” hormone, low at bedtime, so you can sleep. Cortisol should rise to its daily high when it’s time for you to wake up. But this internal clock can be easily upset by ongoing stress of almost any kind. Long-term stress can lead to adrenal imbalance suppressing the body’s natural sleep–wake rhythm.
Especially detrimental to your sleep cycle is “perceived” stress, perhaps, a problem at work or a difficult personal relationship. These sorts of issues aren’t life-threatening emergencies, but your body can’t tell the difference. It operates in survival mode, keeping you on alert, prepared, and wide-awake.
Insomnia is often caused by dysfunction in the central nervous system, caused by imbalances of neurotransmitters and/or hormones, which relay signals from certain glands to the brain and other parts of the body. The body has several neurotransmitters and hormones that might be involved in a patient’s sleep disorder.
From Tired and Wired To Calm and Relaxed
Most patients with insomnia present with the symptoms I call “tired wired”. These include exhaustion yet an inability to fall asleep, or fatigue with an underlying current of anxiety or irritability. This is a very uncomfortable feeling as well as a major health concern. Feeling exhausted is an obvious consequence of insomnia, but adequate sleep is crucial to your health. At its most basic level, sleep is a restorative process of the brain and body. During sleep, your body builds muscle, regulates your immune system, controls metabolism and your brain recharges.
Neurotransmitters and hormones can be measured by using a simple urine and saliva test. These results can tell your healthcare practitioner if any neurotransmitters and hormones are out of balance. With that information, you and your practitioner can decide upon the best interventions – based on your individual body chemistry – to help you sleep normally again.
I have great success helping patients get the sleep their body needs by figuring out and treating the imbalances in their hormones and neurotransmitters.
By Dr. Erika Horowitz
Call today to book your appointment to get you on track to start sleeping and feeling better!
415-915-5454 or email email@example.com