Natural Treatment for Insomnia
Insomnia is difficulty in staying or falling asleep. It can occur secondary to another health condition such as heartburn or acid reflux, depression and anxiety or asthma, so improving overall health with your Toronto naturopath is important for good sleep. Primary insomnia occurs in the absence of such health conditions. There are also many who wake up feeling unrested or deal with fatigue throughout the day despite normal sleep duration, in which case there may be night wakings that you are not aware of or very poor sleep quality.
Initiation insomnia means it is difficult to fall asleep at the start of the night. You may notice that it takes a few minutes longer than you would expect to fall asleep, or it may take hours.
Maintenance insomnia occurs when sleep is interrupted or ends earlier than it should. There may be 2-3am wake-ups after which it is difficult or impossible to fall back asleep, or your sleep may end at 4am or 5am despite intending and needing to sleep longer. Some may notice feeling very hot at night and indeed dysregulated body temperature is a frequent cause of interrupted sleep. An underlying hormonal imbalance may lead to increased body temperature at night. Waking to urinate, though medically it may be considered normal, is also not optimal for good sleep. Prostate hypertrophy, diabetes and even simple stress and inflammation are some of the causes of urination at night. This can also play into insomnia, as it can be difficult to fall back asleep after waking to urinate. Often there is no obvious reason for maintenance insomnia and further investigation by someone with expertise in sleep can be important.
Sleep disordered breathing (SDB), such as snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, is a significant contributor to maintenance insomnia, and many sufferers are not aware they have any problems breathing at night. One cause of nighttime airway restriction is obesity or increased body-mass index (BMI), but it can also result from enlarged tonsils, congestion, and facial/jaw structure abnormality which develops early in life with poor feeding habits, nose breathing, and anatomical challenges like tongue ties. If you have a bed partner, asking whether they notice any noises suggesting increased breathing effort can help identify the need for further investigation into SDB. Most often, people with this problem fall asleep quickly and easily, sometimes even nodding off during the day, but may wake up early or feeling very unrested.
How We Can Help
Insomnia impacts virtually every chronic health condition because sleep is so important to the body's ability to heal. Memory and concentration, mood and energy are all affected by insomnia. Because insomnia leads to more inflammation and worse hormonal function, it creates a vicious cycle in which it is harder to achieve good sleep. Our Toronto naturopaths start by identifying the type and cause of sleep disturbance through a thorough assessment, physical exam, lab tests and a thorough review of your health as sleep is affected by digestion, hormones and nearly any other body system experiencing inflammation or discomfort. The set-up for good sleep really starts during the day, so we help you set up for good sleep from the get-go through supporting nutrition, exercise and stress management that is appropriate to your health and fits into your lifestyle.
How We Are Different
There are many botanical and nutritional supplements for sleep, but we find most patients have tried these without success. As naturopaths, we may offer such sleep products based on individual factors, and sometimes at the appropriate dose and timing, they may support our work together. But these remedies are a finishing touch on our treatment plans, rather than the foundation. We first work to support the body's inherent mechanisms for initiating and maintaining sleep, remove obstacles to good quality sleep through our comprehensive and integrative approach to health, and establish optimal hormonal balance throughout the night and day which helps the body regulate its own wake/sleep cycle.