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How to Naturally Treat Insomnia

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In this video I discuss what insomnia is, symptoms of insomnia, what causes insomnia, pharmacologic treatment for insomnia, natural ways to treat insomnia and lifestyle ways to prevent insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up throughout the night or too early without being able to fall back to sleep. It causes you to feel tired throughout the day.

Causes of Insomnia
-jet lag
-alcohol, caffeine or tobacco before bed
-napping during the day
-not going to bed at the same time every night
-Health problems such as pregnancy, pain or enlarged prostate
-Mental health disorders such as stress, anxiety or depression
-medications such as weight loss pills or inhalers

Insomnia Work-up:

If someone comes to my clinic, I’m going to assess what time they lay down, what time they actually fall asleep, how many times they wake up throughout the night and what time they wake up in the morning. I’m going to assess how the lack of sleep affects them; difficulty concentrating, irritability, falling asleep reading..
Consider a sleep study if obese to rule out sleep apnea.
Check thyroid level-hyperthyroid can cause insomnia

Pharmacologic Treatment for Insomnia:

Start with lightly sedating medications such as Benadryl or Hydroxyzine.
Trial mental health medications such as Trazodone, Remeron and even Seroquel
Consider Clonidine (used for blood pressure)
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan
Non-benzo hypnotics including Lunesta or Ambien

Risks: dependence, tolerance, morning fatigue

Lifestyle Ways to Treat Insomnia:

-No naps
-Go to bed at the same time everyday
-Use the bed for sleep or sex, don’t eat or handout in bed
-Eliminate flashing light such as TV or phone because those stimulate your brain
-Limit alcohol, smoking, caffeine as they are stimulants
-Have a relaxing routine before bed; such as a bath, soft music
-Make sure the environment is conducive to sleep; cold (68F), darkness with black out curtains or eye mask
-Use lavender essential oil spray on your pillow case
-Breathing and relaxation exercises before bed-4-7-8 relaxation technique
-It’s important to not lie in bed awake. If after 15 minutes, leave the bedroom and do a relaxing activity, return to the bed once sleepy

Botanicals to Treat Arthritis:

Melatonin
-Secreted naturally in the evening and throughout the night
-0.3-0.5mg Ideally sustained release
-Shown to benefit sleep onset latency, total sleep time and sleep efficiency

Magnesium
-500 mg can help regulate sleep quality
-Helps activate neurotransmitters to quite the mind
-Side effect is diarrhea

Valerian
-Sedating and anxiolytic botanical
-May take a few weeks to get to therapeutic effect
-300-900 mg

L-theanine
-Sedating and anxiolytic amino acid
-50-400mg 30-60 mins before bed

Cannabis
-THC increases endogenous melatonin by 400 fold
-We are still lacking studies due to legalization issues, so titrate up slowly
-Type of cannabis called Indica is used to fall asleep

Hops
-Same hops found in beer is used as a calmative in anxiety and insomnia
-Antispasmodic properties to reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation
-Works even better when mixed with Valerian
-1.5-2gm

Mind-Body Therapies

Cognitive Behavioral therapy
-Talk therapy with a mental health professional to identify, and correct negative thinking or behaviors associated with sleep.
-Reduces peoples feelings of guilt or anxiety about not sleeping
-Those treated with CBT experience greater increases in deep sleep and decreases in wake time than those treated with zopiclone
-Usually one hour sessions for 1-3 months

Please subscribe to this channel to learn more about integrative medicine, which includes bridging the best of both worlds of conventional and alternative medicine. This channel is to guide you to focus medicine on health, prevention and healing away from disease management. This channel focuses on the whole person including social, spiritual, emotional factors.

Disclaimer: The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. While the information provided is intended to help you make informed decisions about your health and wellbeing and to create a dialogue on living an integrative lifestyle, you should always communicate with your doctor or a licensed health care provider about your unique health needs before accepting any medical recommendations. My hope is to shift the current health paradigm from a disease centered paradigm to a wellness and prevention approach.

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