Monday 3 August 2015

Insomnia, Food Allergies and Nutritional Deficiencies

Did you know that allergies and sensitivities and also nutritional deficiencies can have a negative impact on your sleep? 

These factors have an impact on many aspects of our health and doctors often overlooked when seeking to determine the causes for our health concerns.

Let’s consider allergies and sensitivities first.

Over the last 10years, I have had many clients who come in complaining that nothing seems to resolve their sleep issues. They have often been forced to resort to sleeping pills from their doctor to finally get the sleep they need.

In many of these cases, I have found that food allergies and sensitivities are a large part of the problem.

They can cause:
  • increased anxiety and restlessness  
  • an inability to fall asleep 
  • difficulty staying asleep

Clients may find that they experience a faster than usual pulse rate, excessive urination, sweats and even shivering. They can also have dreams and nightmares or complain that their brain just won't shut off.

Typical foods linked to these problems include cow’s milk products, artificial additives and colours in foods and the nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. There is some truth in the old wives tale that eating cheese before bed causes nightmares!

Of course, if your food allergies are causing you to experience digestive issues such as cramping, gas, reflux or indigestion then this too will affect your sleep.  They can also lead to inflammation and pain in the body making sleeping uncomfortable. In my practice, I often find cow’s milk, wheat and corn to trigger digestive issues, inflammation and body pain.

These food allergies, along with environmental allergens such as dust and dust mites, molds, pets and feathers can trigger stuffiness, sore throats and cough leading to poor sleep. It is possible to treat these allergies with Natural Allergy Therapy, bringing permanent relief.

Another area to consider is the substantial presence of Electro-Magnetic radiation in our modern world.
Sources of exposure include TVs and cell phones, WiFi routers, bedside clocks, smart meters, household wiring and electrical outlets in the wall.
The Electromagnetic frequencies emitted by these devices can have a stimulant effect on our body and mind. You may want to remove all electronic devices from your bedroom. Make sure that you position your bed at least 5 feet away from any device; whether it is in your room, the other side of a wall or in the room above or below.

The second aspect I would like to consider is nutrition.
Going to bed hungry, with low blood sugar is a sure way to have a bad night’s sleep. Make sure to eat enough during the day, having your last full meal at least 2 hours before going to bed. You can also have a small snack 30 minutes before bed.

A deficiency in various nutrients can affect your sleep; some of these are:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B 
  • Vitamin D
  • Amino acids

Often we eat poor diets, on top of which if you have allergies and sensitivities to foods you will not digest these foods and absorb the available nutrients efficiently.

Magnesium and Calcium

A lack of these two nutrients leads to muscular cramps, or ‘charlie horse’ in calves and feet, and restless legs. They also play a part in having a calm mind. Most North Americans are deficient in magnesium; you can ask your family doctor to test for this in your annual blood work.
It is always best to get your nutrition from ‘real food’. However, this is not always possible, and there are various nutritional supplements on the market that provide these two essential minerals.
Foods that will provide calcium and magnesium include
Nut: - walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts
Seeds: - pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
Bananas, avocado, dark leafy green vegetables and dark chocolate
Consuming some milk products is another option, however too much can trigger indigestion, heartburn and reflux issues. Moderation is key here.

Vitamin D

There is research that shows Vitamin D to be essential for good sleep. OHIP no longer tests for this as almost all North Americans are deficient. You can ask your doctor to check your level; however you will have to pay around $30. It is safe for most adults to take 1 – 3000 iu daily and a blood level in between 150 and 200 is good. More absorbable, liquid supplements are the best way to increase your D levels. Take them in the morning as they may keep you awake if taken at night.

Vitamin B

You can find B vitamins in fish, eggs and meat along with milk products. Vitamin B12 in particular only comes from animal sources and 
artificially fortified foods. If you take a supplement, it should also be in the morning as taking it at night may keep you awake.

Amino acids – the building blocks of protein

Several of these are necessary for sleep.  You will need to speak with a health care practitioner to determine which if any of these may be playing a part in your insomnia.

Melatonin as a sleep aid

If you are having problems falling asleep taking 0.3 – 5mg of melatonin an hour before bed can be helpful. It is a natural chemical produced in our bodies that tell our brain to prepare for sleep. Start with the lowest dose and monitor its effectiveness. It should be discontinued once you have created a habit of falling asleep more quickly.

So to summarize, allergies and sensitivities along with nutritional deficiencies can play a big part in your insomnia.  

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

Sue is co-founder and Clinic Director at Ottawa Holistic Wellness. She also works as a Natural Allergist and Energy Healer. 

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