Do you have ongoing sleep problems? Insomnia is a very common and chronic problem that creates long-term negative health implications.
The Sleep Health Foundation says 7.4 million Australians regularly miss out on adequate sleep. “This lack of sleep has harmful effects on everyday function, and exacerbates health conditions from heart disease and stroke through to diabetes and depression in tens of thousands of Australians,” says Professor Dorothy Bruck, Chair of the Sleep Health Foundation.
“On top of this, it claims the lives of more than 3,000 people. The cost of sleep deprivation is utterly alarming and confirms we need to take urgent action to put sleep on the national agenda.”
Australia currently spends $66 billion each year on health costs, lost productivity and general well-being as a result of its sleep deprivation.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s likely that your neighbour, co-workers, and even your children are too.
The main types so Insomnia
Sleep Onset Insomnia
d as the inability to fall asleep. You should aim to fall asleep in 10 minutes each night or at least not take any longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep. If sleep onset is consistently taking longer than that, it requires investigation
Sleep Maintenence Insomnia
Waking up during the night is another issue that people can struggle with. Some people can wake up for a toilet trip and fall straight asleep again, but just getting out of bed once and remaining awake for one, two, or three hours is not great.
If you wake up several times a night, for some occasions hourly, you are not getting into the deep sleep phases that you require for good rest and recovery.
Early Morning Insomnia
Early morning awakening insomnia happens when people frequently wake up at four or five in the morning and that’s it – their body believes it’s time to get up and start the day. Forget about falling back to sleep.
1. Cortisol & Melatonin Imbalance
For many people, chronic stress causes sleepless nights and even brief periods of acute, intense stress that cause temporary disruptions to sleep.
Cortisol levels in our bodies are intended to fluctuate throughout the day, peaking early in the morning and tapering off as the day goes on. We should also have low melatonin levels during the day that increase at night to help us get ready for good quality sleep.
Many individuals, however, are chronically stressed and have high cortisol levels in the evening, with some even reaching midnight. Waking up between 1am and 3am is a typical manifestation of this condition. The objective is to control stress so that the body can naturally produce high levels of melatonin in the evening to assist us get a good night’s sleep.
2. Nervious System
There are two parts of our central nervous system. The parasympathetic system, often known as the “rest and digest” mode, is one of them. The sympathetic component, commonly known as the “fight, flight or freeze” response, is another.
We are chronically stressed when our nervous system believes there is danger we must flee from – a sabre tooth tiger, a woolly mammoth, an unpleasant boss, or a child who throws non-stop tantrums.
Our sympathetic nervous system generates a physiological sequence to prepare for fight or flight. It’s doing what it was built to do, but some of us go to bed in fight or flight mode, while the rest and digest option never gets a chance to kick in for a peaceful night’s sleep.
3. Nutrient Deficiancy
Is there a nutritional deficit that might be causing your sleeplessness? Magnesium, folate, and the B vitamins are essential minerals and vitamins for sound sleep.
Magnesium is a relaxing supplement that works as a muscle relaxant and an important cofactor for the synthesis of soothing neurochemicals. When it comes to magnesium, there’s an old chicken-and-egg conundrum. When a person is stressed for an extended period of time, the magnesium in their body may become depleted. Magnesium deficiency causes sleeplessness and, as a result, sleep deprivation fuels chronic stress. It goes on and on.
B vitamins are required in high doses for the methylation pathway, which is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. To generate melatonin (your sleep hormone), you must first create serotonin, which is subsequently converted to melatonin. The methylation process is also necessary for this. It’s also involved in the manufacturing of adrenaline for the stress response and GABA for anxiety relief.
Vitamin B12 is important in the methylation pathway, as well. It aids in the maintenance of a healthy biological rhythm by ensuring that your sleep-wake cycles are appropriate.
4. Sleep Apnoea
This is a significant issue that is often under diagnosed. Sleep apnoea, which refers to instances when a person’s breathing is stopped or restricted during sleep, causes sleeplessness. People with sleep apnoea have regular blockage of their airways while sleeping, resulting in a complete stop or reduced flow of air.
Because of low oxygen levels and an increase of carbon dioxide occurs, the body activates the fight/flight response, which causes cortisol stress hormone to be released and the result is fragmented sleep. Mouth breathing at night is a tell-tale sign. Snoring and waking with a dry mouth are also indicators of disrupted sleep.
Other Medical Issues
Insomnia can be caused by a number of health issues, and it’s critical to figure out what is causing it and how to fix it. The following are examples of frequent sleep problems:
- Chronic sinus congestion can make breathing through your nose difficult, resulting in sleep deprivation.
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain that keeps you up at night
- Joint disorders such as reactive or rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis
- Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder in manic phase
- Hyperthyroidism can cause insomnia
- Menopause can bring with it flushes, insomnia and night sweats that wake you up!
Chronic Insomnia can also be associated with other conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory illnesses like asthma
- Gut disorders such as duodenal ulcer
- Chronic kidney disease
- Neurological conditions like
- Parkinson’s disease and chronic headaches or migraine
The Bottom Line
Sleep is the foundation of a healthy life, and it is a treatable problem. Yes, it’s possible to be an excellent sleeper.
We frequently remind patients of the significance of protecting their sleep. Consider it a rare and precious commodity that needs to be nurtured and cared for. Make careful about your pre-bed rituals, as well as the time you go to bed and the surroundings in which you sleep.
Sleep, especially if you don’t sleep well, should be looked into. You don’t have to be one of the 7.4 million grumpy Australians who don’t get enough sleep.
Book an appointment with one of the Radius Health practitioners to explore the cause of your sleep problems and find the strategy and solutions that work for you.