It's time to reconnect with yourself. If your sleep has been wacky lately, you might be what's happening. You're tossing and turning at night, unable to get comfortable or fall asleep — you're not alone. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 percent of Americans report having a night of insufficient sleep at least one night a month. At the same time, 11% say inadequate sleep every night (1). While occasional sleepless nights are ordinary, chronic sleep problems can impact your health and well-being.
If you're having trouble sleeping, you must talk to your doctor, a sleep specialist, or other healthcare providers who can help you identify the root cause of your sleep problems and develop a treatment plan.
What are some of the root causes of sleep problems that you can bring up to your doctor at your next appointment?
An obstructed airway is one of the most common causes of sleep problems. Various factors can cause this: mouth breathing, snoring, etc. Therefore, if you think you might have an obstructed airway, talk to your doctor to refer you to an ENT or sleep study to get a proper diagnosis.
Another common root cause of sleep problems is nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies are caused by various factors, including poor diet, stress, not taking any vitamins and certain medications.
Vitamin D is probably the most well-known of the bunch. It's essential for a whole host of things, including sleep.
Vitamin B12 helps your bodies make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your cells. It's also essential for your nervous system and the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells our bodies it's time to sleep.
Magnesium helps your bodies relax and is vital for many other things, like your heart health and immune system.
Zinc helps our bodies produce melatonin, and it's also vital for our immune system.
Iron helps our bodies make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to our cells.
Calcium helps your bodies absorb magnesium, which helps your bones and teeth.
These are just a few vitamins that can mess up your sleep if you're deficient in them. Common signs of nutrient deficiencies are insomnia, muscle cramps, anxiety, restless sleep, still feeling tired after waking up, etc. It's so important to ensure we're getting enough of these nutrients for various reasons, but when it comes to sleep, they're essential. If you think you might have nutrient deficiencies, talk to your doctor to refer you to a naturopath or allergist specialist to get a proper diagnosis.
Do you find yourself struggling to get a good night's sleep? Do you often feel fatigued during the day? These could be signs that you are suffering from food intolerance.
Food intolerance is a condition where the body cannot digest and absorb certain foods. Common signs of food intolerance include eczema, insomnia, fatigue, diarrhea, and constipation. If you think you may be suffering from food intolerance, see your doctor, dietician therapist, or naturopath.
In conclusion, these are just some potential root causes of sleep problems. Yet, according to a National Survey, most adults have never been asked about the quality of their sleep, and fewer than 20 percent have initiated the discussion (3). This is why I’m passionate about talking about sleep. But, you don’t have to suffer in silence if you're having trouble sleeping. Talk to your doctor about a referral to a sleep specialist or other healthcare provider who can help you identify the root cause of your sleep problems and develop a treatment plan.
Tag me, @Jamilia_B, in the comments below, let me know if you have had any sleep troubles. I would love to support you on your sleep journey.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perceived Insufficient Rest or Sleep Among Adults—United States, 2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 58:1179
National Institutes of Health. National Institutes of Health Sleep Disorders Research Plan.
Institute of Medicine. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: An unmet public health problem. Colten HR, Alteveogt BM, editors. ISBN:0-309-66012-2, 1–500. 2006. Washington, D.C., National Academies Press.