You can’t sleep. Maybe you collapse and conk out, but you don’t stay asleep. Or maybe…you can’t fall asleep at all.
These are all rhythms of existence that are juxtaposed to the way you were designed to be. The answers lie in finding your way back to the way you were meant to live. You can’t expect to manipulate your body’s systems with chemicals and function appropriately. Drug induced sleep is not real sleep.
We need dreams. We need a variation in brain waves to correlate with the processes that our bodies are going through on a nightly basis. Circadian rhythms are the prime rhythms that we want to go unhindered to allow for the break down and removal of substances we encounter every day while adapting and building with others. The end of our slumber is signaled by the gradual increase in cortisol, breaking sugars out of the liver and muscle to stimulate our brains into a waking state. (N. Zisapel, 2005)
In the above picture, you see the effects of cortisol and melatonin on each other. The use of cortisol is important for waking state, but under normal circumstances decreases over time to allow a restful state to occur.
When you have an early onset of cortisol or a delayed reduction, we have sleep incompetence. Too early of an onset, too early of an awakening. A delay in cortisol reduction means a delay in sleep.
But I can just take melatonin right?
Cortisol remains the master hormone in this relationship since we also use cortisol to stimulate our survival parts of our nervous system. And in relation to the rest of the nervous system, it’s the oldest and most firmly rooted part of our neural tissues. I mean you could try…and you COULD just collapse from being physically tired, BUT your brain remains awake. You see, when cortisol is up, your primal brain continues to think that there is something in the closet just waiting for you to drift off to sleep and then WHAM! Out comes the clown with the smeared face paint and the dripping teeth. Yeah, they’re creepy and buried deep in your consciousness.
You brain in fact builds a library of all of the scary crap that you may not even know you are exposed to. All of the subliminal, nonsense that steeps into our deep recesses comes back in a hurry when the quiet comes. Your bills, your finances, scary clowns…it’s all the same.
Typically when someone comes to me with sleep issues, there are the obvious interferences like too much blue light in the PM hours stimulating the brain to think it’s time to be awake. Too many devices in our lives at the wrong time of day wreak havoc on our rhythms for sure. Throwing the bathroom lights on when you get up to pee is another dose of the stuff you can avoid and for God’s sake, leave the phone alone!! But blue light alone is not enough to completely throw your rhythms off.
Another wrinkle in the equation comes in the form of blood sugar dysregulation. If your insulin spikes in the PM before bed, you can bet for a sugar crash. Hypoglycemia will wake you up quickly. It also messes with your hormones, increasing body temperature making it hard to find the cool side of the pillow. As for the crash, your body compensates by YOU GUESSED IT: Cortisol. There’s obviously a reason you need that sugar, so cortisol makes it from what’s stored in the Liver and the muscles, but now you’re awake. AWAKE!
When you’re uncomfortable, it’s your circadian rhythms telling you it’s time to move. This is when the stored energy from blue light kicks in, making it easier for you to pop out of bed. But you soldier on, forcing another hour or 2 of troubled sleep and you wake up finally, cranky pants and all. Your brain has been awake for hours and your now exhausted. And slightly broken.
Broken? Yes. You need good sleep to restore your body. You burn more body fat at night than when you exercise as you use it for fuels to make new tissue. And when you don’t sleep, especially between the hours of 12PM and 4AM, you come up short on the tissue issue. Yawn. Yeah I just rhymed, so what? I’m tired and my focus is wandering. Crashed on the couch last night and woke up at 1:30AM totally awake. Wait…ok. When you can’t sleep you begin to slip physically into a state of disrepair. Joints creak, crack and hurt.
AND you get fatter. But that’s a topic for another post.
That’s a tease for sure, so ya’ll come back now, yuh hear?? At least if you want to know what to do about your lousy sleep!
Rest More and Often.
Dr. Tim R. Rogers
N. Zisapel, R. T. (2005). The relationship between melatonin and cortisol rhythms: clinical implications of melatonin therapy. Drug Development Research, 119-125.