Do you deal with insomnia?
I did for many years. Let me share my experience; perhaps you can relate:
Every night, I would toss and turn for at least two hours before finally falling asleep. And, to make matters worse, I never stayed asleep for long. Without fail, sometime around 2 or 3, I’d find myself wide awake again, staring at the ceiling for at least another hour before falling asleep again.
I’d wake up exhausted and feel sleepy most of the day. I’d be pumping the caffeine until after lunch just to get through the workday and feeling like it had hardly any effect on me.
And then when dinnertime would hit, I’d feel myself feeling more awake.
This is also when I felt the most productive, so I’d try to get as much done in the evening as I could – workouts, grad school work, catching up from things earlier in the day, you name it.
I’d also start to stress about trying to fall asleep, because I knew it’d be such an effort to get there.
I scour the internet for solutions. And I’d try what felt like ALL THE THINGS.
Some things sort of helped…but not long-term. One would seem to work for awhile and then I’d find myself, once again, staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night.
What I later found out when I went through my healing journey was that all those things were only treating the symptom of insomnia.
They weren’t getting at the root of WHAT was causing it.
That’s why those things didn’t work long term and why what might work for one person isn’t going to necessarily be the fix for you.
Once I healed the imbalances in my body that were causing the insomnia, I completely stopped having sleep issues. I now fall asleep within just a few minutes (and even sometimes seconds!) of my head hitting the pillow. And I stay asleep all night.
If you can relate to where I used to be with my sleep, just know that it IS possible to have a good night’s sleep. You just might need to do a little detective work to get at the root of what’s causing those sleepless nights of yours.
Here are four root causes that could potentially be the root of your insomnia:
A Sluggish Liver
In our modern world, it’s hard to avoid toxins. They are added to food, they are in the clothes we wear, our beauty care products (in fact, some experts say that women put close to 500 chemicals on their body before they leave the house for the day). They are in our food storage, the medications and birth control we take, and the water we drink.
The more toxins your body is exposed to, the harder your liver has to work to remove them.
Additionally, our liver is also responsible for processing any hormonal excess we have (which, we all do every month since our hormones rise and fall throughout the month) as well as any gut pathogens.
If the liver struggles to keep up with the demand for detoxification, it may become sluggish and congested…and toxins end up getting backed up into the body.
Liver processing time is between 2 and 4 AM. If you find yourself frequently waking up between these times and find it difficult to fall back asleep, then your body is giving you an indication that your liver needs some love.
Many women experience imbalanced hormones.
This can be a result of many things such as poor gut health (more on that in a moment), long-term birth control use (even if you’ve been off for awhile), stress, use of plastics for food storage, eating, and cooking, nutrient deficiencies, mineral deficiencies, and more.
The most common hormonal imbalance is having too much estrogen in the body – we also call this “estrogen dominance”. Insomnia is a common symptom of that.
Other symptoms of estrogen dominance can also include things like night sweats, brain fog, trouble focusing, memory issues, low libido, and weight gain.
A good way to test hormones is through the DUTCH test. We do recommend pairing that with an HTMA and/or a GI-Map. Because they are all so interconnected, knowing the results of those in addition to hormone levels really helps us start to paint a good picture of what’s going on in the body leading to your insomnia and other symptoms.
Poor Gut Health
A lot of our hormones are created in the gut; two of which are melatonin and serotonin. These hormones are designed to help relax us and put us to sleep.
If we have any issues with our gut, then the production of these hormones is also compromised. By issues – we could be talking about parasites, an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast, and fungus.
That’s why just taking some melatonin to help fall asleep is only an attempt to plug the hole, but it doesn’t address the root of what’s going on in the gut.
Additionally, gut pathogens affect our circadian rhythm, immune system, and can lead to a spike in cortisol – creating a recipe for sleep troubles.
If you also deal with digestive issues such as bloating, belching, gas, diarrhea, or constipation, then that’s another clue to you that you might have something going on in the gut and it would be worth looking at it closer.
Keep in mind, however, that not everyone deals with digestive issues when they have poor gut health.
There are gut pathogen tests that can uncover what’s going on inside your gut that could be leading to your insomnia. My favorite is the GI-Map.
Additionally, running our favorite lab, the HTMA, can give us clues to whether or not it might be worth looking into the gut further with a GI-Map.
Copper toxicity is a growing epidemic in this world, especially among women. Unfortunately, it is not well-known in the medical field quite yet.
The reason women are at such high risk for it is due to our long-term use of birth control – both hormonal pills and IUDs as well as the copper IUD.
The copper IUD provides an ongoing exposure to copper, which of course can increase the levels in the body.
When we’re on the pill or hormonal IUD, our body is exposed to synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones.
Estrogen and copper have a unique relationship where they enhance each other – when we have more estrogen in our body, copper rises. And as copper rises, it increases copper. Putting us at risk for copper toxicity.
One of the symptoms of copper toxicity is insomnia – as well as many others, such as: fatigue, racing mind, high anxiety, depression, ruminating negative thoughts, and increased PMS are just a few of these.
There are a lot of common symptoms matched between estrogen dominance and copper toxicity, which makes sense based on the type of relationship copper and estrogen have.
Unfortunately, simply just stopping birth control doesn’t necessarily mean copper toxicity will go away. It can actually remain in the tissues for years after stopping birth control.
The best test for copper toxicity is a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) which looks at the mineral content in your hair. Blood tests are not a good option for copper toxicity.
So there you have it! Those are four common underlying causes of insomnia. Hopefully, that also gives you a clue as to why maybe some of the strategies you’ve been trying thus far haven’t worked as well as you would have liked.
Oftentimes, when we just try random strategies, we are really only treating the symptoms at the surface, but not getting at what’s going on within our body that is causing them.
Running labs is one of the best ways you can uncover the root and speed up your timeline to eliminate your insomnia and other symptoms you deal with.
Article by: Kim Heintz, FDN-P