Have you been waking up in the middle of the night? Multiple times a night? Finding yourself posting on Facebook at 2 am and then again at 4 am?
You are not alone. Since COVID-19 has taken over, we’ve had an increase in the number of patients contacting us about sleep issues.
Sometimes sleep may seem like a luxury, but lack of sleep can be deadly. Researchers in Australia discovered that being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a .05 blood alcohol concentration.
After 24 hours, the impairment jumped to .10. When you consider that in most states, .08 is considered legally drunk, you can see the problem.
You may think that interrupted sleep isn’t as big a deal as no sleep, but it turns out that four periods of prolonged wakefulness over 8 hours can be more damaging than insomnia.
The impact of consistently waking up throughout the night may be worse than insomnia because when the sleep cycle is interrupted, it is forced to start over again, which can inhibit deep and restorative sleep.
1. Your blood sugar may be dropping in the middle of the night.
A drop in blood sugar can cause your body to wake you up. Eating too many carbs, skipping meals, eating late at night, and eating large meals can cause nighttime hypoglycemia.
The solution: Eat consistent, balanced meals throughout the day, especially at dinnertime.
2. You are drinking wine or alcohol at night.
Although alcohol can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increase restorative slow-wave sleep (SWS) in the first part of the night, it can also disrupt later sleep stages and the ability to fall into REM sleep.
The solution: Women, keep your alcohol intake to no more than one glass at dinner. Men no more than two glasses at dinner.
3. Your hormones are out of balance.
Although hormone fluctuations during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause are common, they can cause interrupted sleep. This is why women are twice as likely to experience interrupted sleep and insomnia than men.
But this doesn’t mean that men are immune to interrupted sleep caused by hormone changes. Substantial evidence has been found that falling testosterone levels increase a man’s chances of having sleep apnea.
The solution: Consult with your health practitioner, like us! With your help, they can get to the root cause of the problem and offer a customized course of treatment.
4. You may have adrenal fatigue.
Stress affects the stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol. If you have a surge of either of these hormones, your body will jump into a flight or fight response.
Chronic stress will keep the body in a constant stress response, which will lead to adrenal fatigue. This can cause low blood sugar, abnormal fluctuations in adrenal function, abnormal cortisol levels, and an inability to stay asleep.
The solution: Consult with a functional medicine practitioner, like us! They will be able to test your hormone levels, talk with you about any lifestyle choices that may be causing stress, and develop a course of treatment.
5. You may be low on vitamin co-factors, melatonin, and GABA.
The brain and adrenal glands regulate sleep on a circadian rhythm. Melatonin is the sleep neurotransmitter. It is made from serotonin, which is made from the amino acid tryptophan, vitamins B6, B12, folate, niacin, iron, and magnesium.
A shortage of these nutrients leaves you with fewer ingredients that create sleep. The most plentiful calming neurotransmitter in the brain, GABA, also plays a role in keeping you asleep.
The solution: Melatonin, GABA, and vitamin/mineral supplements are widely available. Work with your doctor to determine the supplements you would benefit from and at what dosages.
6. You may have gastrointestinal reflux (GERD).
You get GERD when acid from your stomach backs up into your esophagus. This often causes a burning sensation or chest pain. However, not everyone experiences these symptoms. Your only symptoms may be interrupted sleep or chronic cough.
The solution: Before you stock up on antacids, have your doctor check your esophagus for damage. Then talk with them about potential diet and lifestyle triggers such as eating spicy or acidic foods or eating too much and or too late. Also, ask them to check for undiagnosed food allergies and sensitivities.
7. Medications and or supplements might be interrupting your sleep patterns.
For example, beta-blockers and asthma medications are well-known for causing sleep problems. Opioid drugs can lead to sleep apnea. Stimulating supplements like Gotu kola, ginseng, and licorice can also keep you up at night.
The solution: Talk with your doctor about how the medications and supplements you take may affect your sleep. Also, note vitamins B12 and B6 should be taken in the morning because if you take them at night, they can lead to vivid dreams that may wake you up.
8. You may be suffering from depression.
Although it seems counterintuitive, depression can severely compromise your sleep patterns. Although you may sleep more than usual, the sleep isn’t restorative. It is also common for antidepressants like SSRI’s to interfere with sleep.
The solution: If you need help, get it. You can start by talking to your primary care doctor, psychiatrist, or counselor. If you are already undergoing a course of treatment that includes antidepressants, speak with your provider about switching to another drug.
Functional Health & Wellness is Here for You!
If you are having trouble staying asleep, Living Well Dallas is here to help. We’ll help you get to the root of the problem. But we won’t leave you hanging!
We have a whole team of doctors and specialists who can get you on the road to better health. We’ll work together to help you feel better. We’re here to listen, give you the care you deserve, and offer long-term solutions to live your best life.
Get in touch with our team today to learn how we can benefit you and lead the path to optimal health. Schedule your consultation with Living Well Dallas.