Vitalia’s Approach to Insomnia

Stress almost always plays some role in the development and continuation of insomnia.  Chronic stress causes an adrenal imbalance to occur, resulting in elevated nighttime cortisol levels.  Many additional lifestyle factors can perpetuate and contribute to the adrenal imbalance including caffeine, lack of exercise, alcohol, recreational drug use, and some prescription drugs.

Insomnia is particularly prevalent in the senior population.  It is exacerbated by poor sleep habits like falling asleep in front of the TV.  It is important to treat this condition as one of the most potent natural anti-aging substances that the body produces is called Growth hormone.  Growth hormone is only produced during deep sleep, and during the 7th and 8th hour of sleep is when the highest amounts of this hormone is released.

At Vitalia, we differentiate between sleep-onset insomnia and sleep-maintenance insomnia.  Here are some of the causes of each:

Sleep-onset insomnia may be caused by:

  • Stress, anxiety, tension
  • Environmental change
  • Emotional distress
  • Fear of insomnia
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Sleep-maintenance insomnia may be caused by:

  • Depression
  • Environmental change
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol

We find it is especially important to pay attention to any existing hypoglycemia symptoms (ie low blood sugar).  A drop in blood sugar triggers a nighttime release of many stimulating hormones including cortisol, which causes the person to wake up. An easy antidote to this syndrome is to eat a protein and carbohydrate snack at bedtime.  This will decrease the drop in blood sugar that typically occurs in the middle of the night.