The Five Root Causes Of Insomnia
As functional medicine practitioners, we know there's always a root cause behind any negative health condition. Unfortunately, we see far too many patients suffering from chronic lack of sleep, also known as insomnia.
If you're suffering from insomnia, we feel for you; we've seen firsthand how it affects our patients and the drastic toll it takes on their quality of life. It's important to correctly identify the root cause of insomnia, as this is the most effective way to treat it for good
Conversely, with traditional medicine, insomnia patients might be prescribed a sleep aid, which relieves the stress that insomnia causes. However, it risks creating dependency while failing to remove the issue entirely. If it's the only thing that helps the patient sleep, then the patient's wellness is in the hands of the medication.
Instead, we help patients become their own health advocates by educating them about root cause treatments that help them break free of a prescription-model treatment plan.
If you suffer from insomnia, we've gathered the five possible root causes so you can finally get some rest.
What Is Insomnia?
Everyone experiences the occasional sleepless night, but insomnia is characterized by a chronic inability to fall or stay asleep. Some people suffer from acute insomnia, which lasts for days or weeks, while others suffer from chronic insomnia, which lasts for a month or more.
Insomnia patients rarely feel fully rested, have low energy, have difficulty functioning at work or school, and are at higher risk for developing other health problems. At face value, insomnia prevents people from getting enough sleep.
However, this condition affects a person’s health in other ways:
- Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep
- Waking up before your alarm clock
- Never feeling fully rested upon waking up
- Feeling extremely sluggish throughout the day
- Increased irritability
- Making unusual errors and an inability to focus
- Pre-emptive anxiety about sleep
The Five Root Causes Of Insomnia
1. Hormone Imbalances
Adrenal dysfunction is often linked to insomnia, thanks to your sleep and stress responses sharing the same neural pathways. The shared pathway is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, or the HPA. The HPA regulates cortisol, a stress-related hormone that also plays an important role in achieving a good night's sleep.
If you're exposed to excessive stress or stimulation for a long period of time, your HPA axis is likely to be overstimulated and dysregulated. The result can often become a vicious cycle of insomnia and even more stress, exacerbating the problem.
Other hormone imbalances that could contribute to insomnia are the hormonal changes resulting from menopause or perimenopause.
Functional Medicine Treatments for Insomnia from Hormone Imbalances
Suppose your root cause of insomnia stems from hormonal imbalances. In that case, a functional medicine doctor can run thorough testing to identify the imbalance and recommend the right treatment to restore and regulate your hormones. If you suspect that adrenal dysregulation and stress contribute to your insomnia, a functional medicine provider will help you find ways to de-stress and relax.
2. Mental Health Issues
We've seen an alarming increase in cases of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression in recent years, prompting us and others in the medical field to examine how they are related to health conditions, such as insomnia. As mentioned, with hormonal imbalances, anxiety can contribute to adrenal distress while dysregulating a circadian rhythm.
Additionally, it's been found that mental health and sleep affect each other. This creates a continuous feedback loop. If you're suffering from insomnia and have a history of mental health issues, these two could be linked.
Functional Medicine Treatments for Insomnia from Mental Health Issues
While we're not psychologists, we can offer a different lens for looking at any mental health problems you have been experiencing. A functional medicine doctor will get to know you inside and out, meaning that we'll run blood tests, but we'll also take the time to understand your lifestyle, stress level, diet, and mental state.
Through this understanding, we know which tools to use to help you regain mental wellness and support your mental health journey. It will likely lead to restored rest and more energy.
3. Poor Sleep Hygiene
For better or worse, technology is a part of our life. Additionally, our lives have become busier, and we're bombarded with more information than ever. If you're not currently practicing good sleep hygiene, you're at a much higher risk of experiencing insomnia.
Functional Medicine Treatments for Insomnia from Poor Sleep Hygiene
If you know that you do any of the following, it's up to you to make lifestyle changes that help you sleep better:
- Scrolling through your phone in bed
- Watching television until you fall asleep
- Reading the news before going to bed
- Keeping wireless routers in your bedroom
- Interacting with any blue light devices before bedtime
Instead, we recommend the following:
- Turning off devices and television at least two hours before bedtime
- Reading a book instead of scrolling through your phone
- Removing your wireless away from sleeping areas or unplugging it at night
- Avoid reading the news or anything else that causes mental stimulation
- Create a wind-down routine where you dim the lights, do some relaxing yoga, or meditate
4. Vitamin and Mineral Imbalances
Magnesium is essential for many health functions, including regulating your circadian rhythm, which is in charge of your sleep cycle. Interestingly, studies have shown a connection between low magnesium and depression, another cause of insomnia. Additionally, low vitamin D is linked with insomnia.
Functional Medicine Treatment For Insomnia From Vitamin And Mineral Imbalances
At our Boca Raton functional medicine doctor's office, we offer the latest testing to determine whether you have any deficiencies in minerals or vitamins that could be related to insomnia. A qualified functional medicine doctor will help determine your proper nutrient balance, and we work closely with our patients to understand their unique needs.
5. An Inactive Lifestyle
So many of us are tied to a computer screen. Whether working remotely or at a desk, plenty of people stay in one place for too long every day. Staying crouched over a screen day in and day out is terrible for your overall health, and it's not allowing energy to distribute in a way that creates the necessary tiredness for a good night's sleep.
Functional Medicine Treatment For Insomnia From An Inactive Lifestyle
If the root cause of insomnia is an inactive lifestyle, you can visit a functional medicine doctor, but they're likely to tell you what you already know: you must incorporate physical activity into your life to enjoy the health and sleep benefits. We understand it's sometimes difficult to make changes, so we recommend finding something that you can look forward to. It can be tennis with friends, walking with your dog, or finding a yoga studio where you find peace and solace. Whatever it is, the discomfort of starting a new physical routine will be well worth it once you get a good night's sleep.
If You Only Treat Symptoms, the Underlying Causes Never Go Away
Let’s Get to the Bottom of Your Health Issues. Then Remedy Them.