WHAT’S DRIVING MY INSOMNIA? (PART 4 OF 7)

2010/05/19
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. In Topic One we discussed toxic overload contributing to sleep disorders and insomnia symptoms. In Topic Two Part A & B we discussed hormonal factors affecting sleep. In this article we will discuss brain chemistry.

TOPIC THREE: Is Brain Chemistry Causing Insomnia Symptoms?

There are three principal brain neurotransmitters that can impact one’s sleep: serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. Neurotransmitters also follow a rhythm throughout the day. Taking a morning and before bed urine neurotransmitter test will give you an excellent assessment of what your brain chemistry looks like. A lab kit can be ordered online from www.immunematrix.com (NeuroScreen/NeuroScience – urine testing SKU: SKU16270)

If you can only afford to take one test, take it before bed as your neurotransmitters before bed will be more reflective of why you may be having sleep disturbances or chronic insomnia. The balance of all three of these neurotransmitters can affect the quality of your sleep.

Low Serotonin

If your body is not making enough serotonin, then you will have a harder time relaxing and winding down in the evening. Women are more pre-disposed to low serotonin especially with their monthly cycles. Low serotonin in women can be experienced anytime of the day and it will leave a woman feeling despondent, sad, unexplained unhappiness, lack of cheerfulness, weepy, tired, fatigued, listless, even foggy headed.

Most of our serotonin, especially for women is made in the first two hours of waking up. It is made from the amino acid tryptophan which is especially high in foods such as turkey! Therefore, eating breakfast, and having protein at breakfast is essential to keeping your serotonin levels up.

Do not take L-tryptophan or 5-htp without the supervision or advice of your health care provider as it can alter and affect your prescription drugs. It can also elevate your morning melatonin levels excessively if not watched and contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is why balance, knowledge and understanding are important.

Low GABA

Anxiety is the predominant feature of low GABA individuals. They become easily anxious and may even suffer anxiety attacks. Short of feeling obviously anxious, you may simply feel restless at night, uneasy for no reason, fidgety and unable to relax or have a tendency for OCD (obsessive compulsiveness). Low GABA will prevent you from entering into a restful deep sleep and can cause you to wake easily and have restless sleep.

If you have low GABA it generally is not low only at night and you will need to see an experienced health care practitioner to guide you in rebuilding your neurotransmitters levels. Many individuals do not do well taking a GABA supplement. Immune Matrix has found clinically, that for those suffering from chronic inflammation, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, any chronic digestive disorder such as Chron’s, celiac sprue, leaky gut, irritable bowel, depression, generalized anxiety or anxiety attacks, that their immune system may have become sensitized to a precursor or a metabolite along the line of synthesis for GABA or become sensitive to GABA itself! Treatments are available to eliminate the immune interference and the return of optimum GABA levels results.

Elevated Dopamine

Dopamine allows us to have mental focus and alertness. If we have a lifestyle that causes us to work, study, or use the computer late into the night, our body will continue to keep our dopamine levels up in an attempt to meet our mental needs. This is why it is important to try to wind down and stop mental stimulating activity at least an hour before bed.

In many cases your dopamine levels may be normal but your body may not be degrading dopamine as it should at the end of the day. This results from low levels of an amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid breaks down dopamine. This leaves you with too much dopamine too long, especially for the time when you should be sleeping. Elevated dopamine will cause you to go to bed feeling wired yet tired. Your brain will be awake and will not let your body fall sleep or stay asleep. Restless nights are also possible with elevated dopamine. However, it is more likely that you will be the night owl and it will be easy for you to stay up later than you should and harder to fall asleep.

In summary, balancing your brain chemistry is not hard once you know what your levels are in the morning and before bed. Work with an experienced medical practitioner familiar with urine neurotransmitter test results. You can order these labs online at www.immunematrix.com and receive a consultation regarding your findings. You will then have additional information to go back to your doctor to embark on a course correction to cure the cause of your sleep disorder and chronic insomnia.

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