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It is thought that a third of people in the UK have bouts of insomnia which means a disturbed nights sleep. You may find it hard getting to sleep or may wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Nearly everyone has problems sleeping at some time or other but for some the prospect of another night wide awake when you are already exhausted can feel like too much to bear.

Adults usually need, on average, seven to nine hours sleep a night. As we get older, it’s normal to need less sleep

Sleep is a state of consciousnesses, which gives your body time to rest and build up your strength. While you are asleep, your body goes through different stages at approximately 90 minute cycles. These include light sleep, deep sleep and dreaming, also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Difficulties with sleep can appear in a variety of ways:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep (sleep onset insomnia).
  • Waking in the night (frequent nocturnal awakening).
  • Waking early in the morning
  • Not feeling refreshed after sleep.
  • Waking when you have been disturbed from sleep by pain or noise.

Insomnia can last for days, months or even years and can be split into three categories:

  • Transient insomnia lasts for 2-3 days.
  • Short-term insomnia lasts for more than a few days, but less than three weeks.
  • Chronic insomnia can be defined as insomnia most nights for three weeks or longer. This can lead to problems such as depression or misuse of medications or alcohol in order to gain sleep.

Contributory factors

Hormone imbalance – Fluctuations in hormone levels just before menstruation and after the menopause can disturb sleep. If your insomnia is linked to your menstrual cycle or has come on since starting the menopause you might like to consider having a hormonal test to uncover any imbalances. Female Hormone Tests.

Melatonin imbalance – Melatonin is the sleep hormone. Levels gradually rise in the evening peaking at the point we fall asleep. Shift work and travelling across time zones can interfere with this cycle, leading to sleep problems. Melatonin imbalances can be detected using a saliva test. Once identified Smart Nutrition would be able to design you a protocol to help restore you natural day and night rhythm as well as limiting the impact of jet lag and shift work on your body clock. Adrenal Stress Test.

Stress – Stress is a common cause of sleeping difficulties. Worrying about health, money and work would keep any of us awake. Many people with stressful jobs or who spend time in challenging environments are prone to sleep problems. The problem is that often the people who are stressed do not realise they are stressed and they wonder why they can’t sleep! One of the ways the body manages stress is to make us feel as if we are coping. If you have a demanding lifestyle, you might like to consider a stress test to find out how well your body is really managing. The test works by measuring the levels of different stress hormones to look for any imbalances. For instance if your cortisol levels are high at night that can be one reason why you may find it hard to get to sleep at night and you may also be known as a nigh owl. If you are suffering from insomnia then it makes sense to also test for the hormone melatonin which is linked to sleep and the stress hormones. Luckily they can be tested together. Adrenal Stress Test.

Imbalanced brain chemistry – Insomnia can stem from slight imbalances in the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. This can be caused by many factors including a lack of the correct building blocks in the diet or a lack of the nutrients needed to help the body make these vital substances. Deficiencies in these building blocks can be determined via An Amino Acid Urine Test . Alternatively if you didn’t feel you wanted to have a test addressing and balancing your diet can help to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need for a good nights sleep. Book a Consultation.

Hyperthyroidism – The thyroid is the gland that runs the body’s metabolism. In some disease states it can become overactive. This causes symptoms such as disturbed sleep, nervousness, feeling hot, weight loss and loose stools. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should consider A Thyroid Test.

Nutrient levels -Certain nutrients are very important for helping our bodies to unwind at night and go through the motions of the sleep cycle. Deficiencies of any of these nutrients can make it harder for us to get to or stay asleep. Low nutrient status can be identified with a simple test. If you discover that you do have a deficiency, Smart Nutrition could advise you on dietary changes and supplements to help restore healthy levels and support a relaxed state of mind and body. NutrEval MOT Health Test.

Stimulants– Regularly consuming stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate, nicotine or alcohol can also aggravate insomnia . Sadly, many of us are very attached to these substances and would find them hard to give up! Fortunately, with the help of Smart Nutrition the process of reducing these factors can be made much easier. Using a combination of diet and supplements it is possible to support the body and reduce cravings while gradually replacing stimulants with healthful alternatives. Book a Consultation.

Blood sugar imbalance – A diet high in refined foods and sugars tends to causes rapidly fluctuating blood sugar and energy levels. If blood sugar levels drop during the night this can cause disturbed sleep. Following a blood sugar balancing diet can help to prevent this and aid sustained energy levels through the day. Book a Consultation.

Parasites – Parasites can cause intestinal disturbances which wake us in the night and can cause teeth grinding too so If you have other digestive symptoms alongside trouble sleeping it would be advisable to have the traveller’s tummy test to check you haven’t picked up miniscule freeloader! Traveller’s Tummy Test.