I suffered from insomnia for years. I could be completely exhausted and barely able to keep my eyes open but once I laid in bed I would lay there tossing and turning for hours, suddenly wide awake (and doing a full analysis of every detail and scenario that had taken place in my life). Then the next day I would be the most irritable person to walk planet earth thanks to my lack of sleep. My hormones would be thrown off and I’d have cravings like no other. Due to my lack of sleep I’d have to consume caffeine just to function as a normal human. And then the cycle would continue. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year. Occasionally I would find something that would work for the short term, but usually after a few weeks I’d be right back to where I started.
Insomnia isn’t fun. Not for you, and especially not for those around you who have to feel the wrath of an irritable sleep deprived monster (or was that just me…).
So before I go over my favorite ways to cure insomnia I figured I should explain what might be causing it. There are a few things that could be happening.
Your nighttime cortisol levels may be elevated. This may be due to immune activity, parasites (they are most active at night) or another type of infection. Cortisol may also be elevated due to what you’ve eaten throughout the day – if you happen to be eating a food you are sensitive to it will cause a rise in cortisol. Eating a meal high in carbohydrates or sugar may cause your blood sugar levels to rise and when they lower back down again it causes a rise in cortisol. (If you’re someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and needs a snack to get back to sleep this may be why!)
You may be consuming caffeine too late in the day. The half-life of caffeine is between 5-6 hours; meaning if you consume an afternoon cup of coffee at 4pm that has 200mg of caffeine in it between 9pm and 10pm you’ll still have 100mg of caffeine in your system.
You may be confusing your brain about what time of day it is. (Huh, what?!) If you’re someone who sits in front of a screen a lot (T.V., computer, tablet, cell phone, etc.) especially at night your brain may be confused about what time it is. Electronics that give off blue light throw the body’s circadian rhythm out of whack and decrease production of melatonin.
So what can you do to stop the insomnia?
-Eat a meal or snack before bed that will keep blood sugar levels stable – something higher in fat or protein and lower in carbohydrates
- Run a G.I. test to check for parasites or bacterial overgrowth
- Switch your afternoon coffee to a tea or sparkling water (try to limit caffeine after noon)
- Limit screen time after 7pm or 8pm and/or invest in blue light blocking glasses to wear after the sun has gone down
- Create a bedtime routine that will help you to relax – read, journal, take a bath, or do some restorative yoga – whatever is calming and relaxing for YOU
- Write down your to-do list before you start to get ready for bed – this way there will be less things running through your mind and you won’t be worried about forgetting to do something tomorrow
I opted not to recommend supplements that can help you to fall asleep – because without lifestyle changes supplements won’t help in the long term. To truly cure insomnia for good you have to get to the root cause of it, not cover it up with a band-aid (or supplement in this case). If you have tried any or all of my recommendations above and are still struggling to sleep please don’t hesitate to reach out to me – firstname.lastname@example.org