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“In the morning you beg to sleep more, in the afternoon you are dying to sleep, and at night you refuse to sleep."
Are you doomed to never have a good night's sleep ever again?
Here's a little secret: Most sleep issues are caused by inflammation.
Inflammation is a stress trigger in your body that changes your sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythm) by throwing off your cortisol, neurotransmitters, and blood sugar. This change can be subtle and, in the end, insidious. However, if you take care and become aware of triggers, inflammation can be managed, alleviating your insomnia.
So let me break this down into four parts.
Circadian rhythm: While it's not a music genre, it is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep/wake cycle and repeats every 24 hours. This internal clock runs in the background to carry out essential functions and processes and is directly influenced by environmental cues, especially light, so circadian rhythms are tied to the cycle of day and night.
Cortisol: Known as the stress hormone it has many vital effects and functions in your body aside from regulating your body's stress response. The body constantly monitors cortisol levels to maintain homeostasis. High cortisol levels can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system.
Neurotransmitters: A chemical substance that acts as a messenger in the nervous system. These are chemical signals that can affect such feelings as mood, hunger, anxiety, and fear.
Blood sugar: Also known as glucose. This is the primary sugar found in blood. Glucose comes from the food we eat. This sugar is an essential energy source and provides nutrients to the body's organs, muscles, and nervous system.
How are Inflammation and Insomnia Interlinked?
Taking a sleep aid is a short-term solution to a problem that may be chronic and involve many systems of your body. For example, the hormone cortisol is meant to be high in the mornings and taper off throughout the day. As cortisol tapers off, melatonin tapers on to get you ready and put you to sleep. A dream-inducing sleep where you get an appropriate period of REM sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
However, if your body is inflamed, the cortisol will be high late in the day, blunting the letdown of melatonin that causes your brain and body to calm and request sleep. Contributing factors to this phenomenon are:
Excess Caffeine Consumption
Poor Food Choices
Lack of Movement
Other factors causing an imbalance can be contributed to blood sugar and neurotransmitter conversion dysregulation. The out-of-whack blood sugar causes you to wake up to pee or even get food. While issues with the neurotransmitter lead to an overabundance of excitatory glutamate swimming around and a lack of calming GABA, causing your mind to race.
The bottom line is that your body needs the reset that sleep provides. Focus on optimizing:
Sleep by keeping bedtimes and wake up times consistent and cutting back on caffeine.
Blood sugar by eating balanced meals with veggies, protein, and healthy fat.
Mood by learning how to harness your stress and use it to your advantage.
There are several things you can implement to get into a deeper sleep and stay asleep longer each night. Here’s are actionable tips from one of my blogs on how to build a better night’s sleep, regardless of your schedule.
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