How to Sleep Soundly in the Land of the Midnight Sun

The Problem    

     Wayne could not stay asleep. He would wake almost every night at 3:00 AM and remain awake for an hour or more. Just about the time he fell back asleep it would be time to wake up.

     Jeanne would be tired all day until it was time to fall asleep. The minute her head hit the pillow she was wide awake and in a panic. She knew she needed sleep, but it would not come. It was beginning to wreck her life. She was resenting her husband who had no problem falling asleep.

     Bill had no problem falling asleep, but he would wake tired. His wife had moved to the guest bedroom in desperation because his snoring was so loud.

     Each of these people are suffering from insomnia. Each has their own particular type. Each was treated successfully without sleep medication.

The Solution

     Wayne’s problem was caused by cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone your body uses to raise blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, it also causes you to wake up. Wayne’s blood sugars were getting low in the middle of the night. A week on a blood sugar balancing diet helped Wayne to sleep through the night.

     Jeanne could not fall asleep at bed time. Her problem was being cause by stress hormones called catecholamines. They are the hormones your body releases when you get worried or have anxiety. She was caught in a vicious cycle of worry. The harder it was to fall asleep, the more she worried and the more she worried, the harder it was to fall asleep.

     She used a combination of L-theanine and herbs to relax before bed. She dimmed the lights, put away her computer and her phone, and took a warm bath to relax. That broke the cycle of worry and helped her to fall asleep. Jeanne created a slowdown pattern that helped her to sleep. Doctors call this using good sleep hygiene.

     Bill’s problem was caused by his throat relaxing when he fell asleep. He had put on some weight in recent years and that combined with age caused him to develop sleep apnea. We suspected sleep apnea might be causing his tiredness so we sent him in for a sleep study. The study confirmed our suspicion.

     We starting him on a C-pap machine which is a device to prevent the throat closure that causes the apnea. After a week he had his energy back and his wife moved back in the bedroom.

     Sleep problems are common and often overwhelming. If you have a sleep problem do not suffer alone. Let us find the cause of the problem and fix it at the source.

This article was featured in Alaska Center for Natural Medicine's Summer 2016 Health Report. To access the entire newsletter archive, click here

Dr. Scott Luper, ND is a naturopathic physician at the Alaska Center for Natural Medicine. If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Luper or have questions regarding ACNM, call our front desk at 907.452.3600!