We’ve spent the week exploring the implications of insomnia, specifically as it interacts with the brain and our biochemicals. Understanding how the brain matter is affected because of sleep deprivation or the chemical reactions taking place in an individual suffering from insomnia is all nice and good, but it doesn’t matter if we don’t apply this knowledge and turn it into action!
If you’ve changed your bedtime habits and sleeping quarters to be more rest friendly, i.e.: not watching TV before bed, disengaging from email/social media in the bedroom, turning off your lights, sleeping in a comfortable temperature, and abstaining from caffeine by early afternoon, then it’s time for lab testing. Micronutrient and neurotransmitter testing will isolate the specific areas of balance/imbalance and allow for a treatment protocol to be developed. Going to the local pharmacy and grabbing all the Zinc, B3, Magnesium, and B6 that you can get yours hands on just because you read that it’s involved in the biochemical pathway of Melatonin is not the way to go. Remember, too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.
The other piece of the sleep puzzle is exercise. Decreased sleep time and quality is associated with increased body fat and obesity. In fact, there is a strong link between sleep disorders and chronic health conditions comorbid with obesity. Even just on the non-scientific level, consider this: when you’re exhausted, what do you reach for? Probably some food to wake you up. What’s your choice? Probably sweet simple carbs to get a burst of energy. Overconsuming simple carbs without exercise is a recipe for weight gain. In regard to exercise, a short, moderate intensity aerobic activity three hours before bed is shown to get us to sleep faster, stay asleep longer, and increase the efficiency of sleep. Weight training is critically important to our overall health, however in this case, aerobic activity three hours before bed is what has been shown to facilitate sleep.
Sleep hygiene is an integral part of wellness, so if you’re not getting your recommended 8 hours, it’s time to find out why. Make time to sleep, it’s not optional for anyone, regardless of their current health. Everyone needs sleep. I hope this week’s dissection of insomnia will help if you or someone you know is suffering from it, and I encourage you to reach out if you find yourself having difficulty counting sheep.
Your heart is the greatest healer of your life. And your soul is the heart of your life. Let’s start living, folks. Today starts now. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Higgins saying, good bye.