Sleeping problems come in a variety of flavors including:
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking up in the middle of the night
- Trouble waking up in the morning
- Not feeling well rested in the morning/ poor sleep quality
Sleep-wake patterns are controlled by the pineal gland in the brain stem, but it is important to recognize that other parts of the brain fire into that pathway and stimulate it. Therefore, Functional neurology and brain exercises can be helpful when combating sleep problems. From a functional medicine perspective, many things can be done nutritionally to support overall brain and bodily health, which will help those pathways run at their very best.
1. Basic blood work can go a long way in assessing overall body and brain health. With a basic panel, I can assess liver, blood sugar, kidney, electrolytes, red blood cells (anemia), white blood cells, and some vitamin and mineral statuses. All of these, particularly anemia and blood sugar problems, often go undiagnosed (or improperly diagnosed) and have a tremendous impact on brain health.
2. Sometimes I run salivary hormone panels to assess the patient's cortisol rhythm and look for things like adrenal fatigue. Oftentimes, such problems respond remarkably well to diet, supplements and lifestyle changes.
3. Stress is a major contributing factor in many cases of insomnia. Yoga, meditation, and relaxations techniques can go a long way in helping relieve stress.
4. Occasionally, I feel the need to treat the symptom of sleep problems with melatonin. No, melatonin isn't going to do anything to get to the root cause of the problem, but some times it is worth while to just get someone to sleep! Just as we need proper nutrition and health to sleep well, we need to sleep to heal our bodies and recover. While we work on the underlying problems sleep can help people recover and heal faster.
If you or somebody you know is interested in working with a functional medicine doctor please call my office at (919) 238-4094 and see if we are the right fit for you. Infinity Holistic Healthcare is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, part of the Raleigh-Durham "triangle" area.
Yours in health,