WHAT’S DRIVING MY INSOMNIA? (PART 3 OF 7)

2010/05/17
Published

In Part1 we discussed insomnia symptoms and insomnia causes. We listed 17 factors that could affect your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, get a deep sleep or disturb your sleep. We have all experienced challenges in our sleep but when insomnia becomes a regular part of your life, we need to look deeper for its causal factors. In Topic Two Part A we discussed how adrenals and blood sugar affect and contribute to insomnia. Here in Part 2 (B) we complete our discussion of hormonal factors that impact our sleep.

Do You Have Low Thyroid Function?

Most of the time when our thyroid values are checked, only Total T3 is tested in many labs. Total T3 means it is testing bound and unbound (from thyroid antibodies) thyroid hormone. However, it is only the unbound thyroid hormone that we are able to use. Testing Free T3 is essential because only Free T3 tells you how much “available” and “free” thyroid hormone you have to use. Your total T3 may be in normal range, but that does not mean your Free T3 is normal!!!! This is essential to understand and anyone who has had a thyroid test and has not had their Free T3 tested MUST INSIST on having it tested. It could be the very reason for undetected low thyroid conditions that are now epidemic for many reasons! Immune Matrix regularly tests their patients for not only Free T3 but also for thyroid antibodies.

The effects of having low thyroid are complex. For purposes of insomnia, the thyroid interacts with the adrenal glands like a brother and sister playing off of each other. If one becomes sick, the other suffers also. This is why it is essential to know one’s cortisol values from a saliva cortisol test if you have any imbalance in your thyroid. (available online at www.immunematrix.com)

Low thyroid can contribute to low blood sugar and low blood pressure, both which will impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. While heart palpitations are more common in those suffering hyperthyroidism, it does occur with low thyroid on occasion, and especially in lyme patients or those suffering chronic viral infections which could impact the thyroid gland directly. Yes, the thyroid can be attacked by pathogens both viral, bacterial and spirochete.

Low thyroid function also prevents a person from getting into a deep sleep. A person will be waken up easier and feel as if they cannot get into or stay in a deep sleep for any extended period of time. Improving thyroid function and elevating one’s Free T3 will resolve this side-effect.

Are You Deficient in Melatonin?

We have an extensive article already devoted to melatonin. It is made by the pineal gland deep in the brain only in total darkness. Melatonin follows a biorhythm throughout the day and if this rhythm is off, it alters our body’s clock and prevents us from winding down and going to sleep when we should.

Night shift workers are particularly sensitive to altered melatonin rhythm because they are working during the hours when we were designed to be sleeping. Their exposure to bright lights and mental stimulation late into the night hours prevents their body from making melatonin at that time. Consulting with a health care practitioner about adding L- tryptophan to your diet before bed can help prompt the body to synthesize melatonin. Adding a full spectrum light box session in the morning will also help to reset your clock and improve your body’s melatonin biorhythm.

Simply taking melatonin if you suspect that this might be a cause might sound like a good idea “to see if it works”. However, this is not a good idea because you will miss the cause for your low melatonin. In addition, a deeper chemical imbalance could go undetected that involves your brain chemistry and can ultimately affect mood, attention, and cognition. Therefore, it is highly advisable to do a saliva melatonin test at home, available through www.immunematrix.com to find out what your melatonin biorhythm is.

Consider these factors first before resorting to taking melatonin as ingesting this hormone will inhibit its synthesis by your body and you will then develop a dependency for supplementation. When your body stops making sufficient melatonin, taking it makes sense. However, when your body could be making more melatonin, but factors exist that inhibit optimal levels; you need to investigate further before supplementation with melatonin.

Some factors that inhibit synthesis of melatonin are:

1)      having a lot of bright lights at night, as light inhibits the mechanism of activating the pineal gland to prompt

melatonin synthesis.

2)      taking NSAIDS, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, beta blockers, steroids, calcium channel blockers too late in the evening can affect melatonin synthesis. Re-evaluate the timing of your medications.

3)      Exercising in the evening can decrease melatonin levels up to three hours after the end of exercise. Try to exercise in the morning or early afternoon and not after dinner.

4)      Determine through laboratory testing if you are low in progesterone and/or serotonin.

Do You Have an Estrogen/Progesterone Imbalance?

You do not need to be in your late 40’s as a woman to be affected by imbalances in estrogen and progesterone. Women in their mid 20’s are beginning in increasing numbers to experience peri-menopausal symptoms! When your body fails to ovulate (release an egg) then your body will not be prompted to make progesterone that month. Your body, especially your brain, needs progesterone to use estrogen. With persistent low progesterone your brain will react to the apparent deficiency of estrogen by increasing your core temperature and hot flushes to hot flashes can result.

The problem with the deficiency in progesterone and the increase in core temperature is that both decrease melatonin synthesis! A vicious cycle begins because of hormonal imbalances. The result is that you may fall asleep but not be able to stay asleep, feeling as if your sleep is lighter, you are woken easier and have a harder time getting back to sleep. This can occur even without the discomfort of hot flushes/flashes. 

There is a simple saliva test to get a baseline for your estrogen and progesterone. It is available online at www.immunematrix.com and is called 5-Salivary Hormone-Diagnos-Techs, Inc. SKU: SKU16266. Working with an experienced health care practitioner, you can improve your ovulation cycle and increase your progesterone. Your sleep disorder symptoms, and chronic insomnia will then become a thing of the past.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan