There are a number of things that can be the cause of poor sleep. The question is — what dynamic is it exactly that’s keeping you up at night? And that can vary completely person to person.
The answer isn’t usually as simple as the answer most often given… take some melatonin.
Having low or insufficient melatonin is a very real thing.
Melatonin is a hormone and hormones affect other hormones…
So the real question we need to be asking if melatonin is really low is why is melatonin low in the first place?
What else could be going?
Could you be dealing with one of these other causes of poor sleep…
Cortisol, a.k.a. the “stress hormone”, is a master hormone that works in relation to other hormones. It’s what primes all of hormone receptors to allow other hormones to work. It’s what gets us going in the morning, is a key part of our immune response. Just like anything else, it’s good in the right amount, but can become problematic if there’s too much, or too much at the wrong time.
We need cortisol to come down so melatonin can come up. The two work in opposition – they’re antagonistic. So if cortisol is high because of stress, food sensitivities, histamine, an infection, it will block melatonin production, causing poor sleep.
High cortisol may be upstream of low or insufficient melatonin.
Low Blood Sugar
If blood sugar is unstable and drops too low over night it can cause adrenaline to spike which raises blood sugar in the body’s effort to stabilize it. The adrenaline shot though is stimulatory and can be the reason for waking up at 3…4…5 a.m.
If we have too much glutamate activity (read: watching the news late at night, caffeine, chocolate, MSG, etc.) or if we are having difficulty converting that glutamate to GABA (read: B6 insufficiency!) sleep will stink. When alcohol messes with your sleep this is where it’s happening, BTW.
Our bodies produce histamine as part of an immune response and it’s also naturally high in certain foods like yogurt, cured meats, wine, and leftovers. When our level of histamine rises, it stimulates a sympathetic nervous system response (read: high alert) which contributes to insomnia.
Magnesium is an incredibly common nutrient deficiency today. It’s estimated 80 percent of the U.S. population has insufficient levels of magnesium. Magnesium insufficiency is associated with poor sleep as it has a calming effect on the body and mind.
Waking with hot flashes can be a sign of estrogen dominance where the fluctuation or dramatic drop in estrogen overnight disrupts sleep.
We need the neurotransmitter serotonin to make melatonin. Healthy levels of melatonin are what allow us fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Other signs of low serotonin include low mood or depression, slow motility or constipation, strong cravings or addictions.
Which Dynamic is Causing Poor Sleep for You?
Does one of these feel spot on for you? Or maybe it’s more than one that’s creating a perfect storm of poor sleep?
Want to dig in deeper and get to the root of what’s causing poor sleep?
As a functional health coach, I work with folks to get to the root of their cause of poor sleep so they can feel rested, more energized, and be able heal. Curious about how to get started? Best thing to do is grab some time for a chat with me here.
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P.S. As a functional health coach, I work with folks to get to the root of their cause of poor sleep so they can feel rested, more energized, and be able heal. Curious about how to get started? Best thing to do is grab some time for a chat with me here.
The content in this post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice.