After fatigue and pain issues, sleep disturbances are the most common complaint that most patients experience. Difficulty going to sleep, awakening in the night, awakening early disturbs the sleep pattern which affects one’s entire life. Life requirements such as getting a spouse off to work at 5 AM, or working two jobs and going to school while taking care of children, snoring, sleep apnea and unmitigated, unrelenting life stress are frequent scenarios of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is a frequently-used torture method. It distorts all bodily processes.
So what are the causes of insomnia? Stress is the number one cause because it affects the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. The adrenal gland sits on the kidneys and looks like Napoleon’s hat. It has two basic elements, the outside (cortex) and the inside (medulla). (See diagram,) The outside makes 40 plus hormones and the middle makes adrenalin (speedy, anxious, and panicky). One of the many jobs of the adrenal cortex is to store reserve blood sugar in the liver (glycogen). At night when we are not eating, if the adrenal cortex is stressed the blood sugar starts to drop. The brain then starts to freak out because we don’t have adequate blood sugar for all of our 100 trillion cells that will die without it. The brain then signals the adrenal glands and adrenalin and cortisol are dumped into the blood stream to convert storage fat into blood sugar in the liver. This works great and we don’t die but it gives an adrenalin rush to our body. It is like trying to sleep on speed or coffee. Patients complain that they were completely exhausted but now are totally wired in the night, awake with heart pounding, reviewing the stresses of the day in the middle of the night, which aggravates the situation. Aging prostates and heart disease also cause frequent awakening for urination and some people have a difficult time returning to sleep.
The reader might review some of our previous articles on adrenal health in HB Magazine. To summarize the adrenal loves sleep, eight or nine hours per night. Vacations and reducing stress in your life always help your adrenal. It is always important to feed the adrenal glands with the nutrients that they must have to function normally. The highest concentration of vitamin C in the human body is in the adrenal cortex. We suggest at least two thousand milligrams of vitamin C per day. People under stress can take a great deal more. Very stressed and sick patients can take 5,000 to 100,000 mgs. intravenously to treat big deficits, infections and chronic illness. The adrenal also loves B vitamins, especially, B5 pantothenic acid and amino acid supplementation which we will address next month along with many herbals, homeopathics and fatty acids help repair the many deficiencies which contribute to lost sleep.
Of critical importance is to avoid the trap of taking patent medicine for insomnia if at all possible. They undermine ones reserves of brain chemicals that are necessary for sleep such as GABA, gamma amino butyric acid, our body’s natural calmative and lead to addictions. Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonipin and others deplete GABA in the long run and are particularly addicting, causing insomnia to be greatly aggravated upon withdrawal from the medications.
Break Your Prescribed Addiction by BJ Sahley, PhD,CNC and K M Birkner PhD Pain and Stress Publications San Antonio, Texas Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Wilson, JL Smart Publications, 2001