Monday, 3 August 2015

Insomnia and Stress

Are you experiencing sleepless nights: insomnia keeping you tossing and turning every night?

Feeling wide awake or having racing or worrying thoughts in the middle of the night? 

Can’t get out of bed in the morning because your sleep isn’t as restorative as you’d like it to be?
You are not alone. 

Any combination of these various factors plays a part in the way you experience insomnia. It’s frustrating and often affects your general health and energy levels. Sleep is the time where your body and brain can repair and restore itself. 

And you might have heard it all, and tried it all.

You’ve tried going to bed a bit earlier, keeping your room very dark, and tried to “not think about anything” and shut off your brain as you get into bed. While some of these techniques work in some cases of insomnia, what happens when these strategies just don’t work for you?

As a naturopathic doctor, I try to dig a bit deeper into the cause of your sleepless night. 

We often don’t associate other realistic causes of insomnia, like chronic stress, as an important factor. Stress feels like constantly being “on”, always on the go, feeling overwhelmed with life and responsibilities and constantly trying to find a balance. Stress is our new “epidemic” – we are all too busy and on the go making this balance difficult to achieve. When stress persists on a weekly and monthly basis, it can become difficult to turn off your thoughts at night to fall asleep. Or you might wake up in the middle of the night unable to fall asleep again.

Your body keeps over-producing small molecules that are active to help you manage stress, like cortisol also called “the stress hormone”. Short-term stress and spikes in cortisol are healthy and get you accomplishing necessary tasks and goals. Long term stress and chronic cortisol elevations can be detrimental and possibly worse than simply disrupting sleep.

It can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, heart disease, weight gain and difficulty with memory and concentration. As we can see, sleep might just be the tip of the iceberg in possible long term side effects of high stress and high cortisol.

So what do we do to address sleep and associated stress?

My first goal is getting you sleeping on a nightly basis, using nutrition, herbs or supplements. We find the approach that suits you and your lifestyle. These natural methods help you restore and repair your body with restful sleep to gain some energy and feel more like yourself again. 

But we don’t stop there! 

My true goal is to tackle stress, an important cause to of your sleepless nights. Everyone can find different coping strategies to deal with their stressors, and we discuss the combination that works. 

Herbs and supplements are a lovely addition to your lifestyle strategies like learning time management methods, setting priorities and goals, relaxation methods, increasing exercise and finding a healthy eating pattern for your optimal functioning. 

Together, we can find a way to treat the root cause of your insomnia, so you can stop counting sheep at night and use that precious time to restore and rejuvenate your body and mind.

If you want to understand more about your insomnia you can book a  complementary no-obligation assessment with one of our experienced health coaches who can answer your questions. 
Call 613 230-0998, book online or email today!

About the author

Dr. Josée Boyer is a board certified bilingual Naturopathic Doctor with a general family practice. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree (Biomedical Sciences) from Laurentian University, in her native Sudbury, Ontario before pursuing her naturopathic medical in Toronto.

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