What separates a serious insomniac from a hobbyist? A serious insomniac wakes up in the morning (granted he slept at all) and is already anxious about the coming evening when he’ll be lying in bed wondering whether this is going to be the night where he’ll finally get some shut-eye. This is not a joke.
Most of us invest quite a bit of anxiety in this process. Anything we do, eat and engage in is a calculated move to maximize our sleep the following night. Longing for sleep is a totally consuming process; it’s an obsession we secretly hide throughout the day.
In fact, I’m so determined to find the root cause of my insomnia that sometimes I wonder how much worse I’m making everything by investing so much energy in resisting my reality. After much pondering and learning more about the nature of our minds I’m now thoroughly convinced – what we resist, persists.
Guided by this universal law, can we make a logical leap that the easiest way to fall asleep is to actually try NOT to sleep?
A while back, during my QiGong practice I decided to take a radical turn and accept my plight. Instead of constantly worrying about insomnia I am [click to continue…]
Discovering that an anti-histamine can help me sleep better was literally a wake up call. What was most interesting is that the anti-histamine I took was the non-drowsy type. It was a regular, ‘new generation’ Cetirizine (Zyrtec). How come a non-drowsy anti-histamine was helping me sleep longer and wake up more refreshed? I had to dig deep and find some answers. I further experimented with three more anti-histamines and discovered the best and worst type for me.
Histamine and Sleep Relationship
Before we delve any deeper we have to understand what role histamine plays in our sleep. Sleep is a complex process that involves numerous neurotransmitters. Among them Histamine is considered a “master” wakefulness-promoting neurotransmitter, exhibiting high activity during waking hours, decreasing in activity during the non-REM sleep, and is at its lowest during REM sleep. It is safe to say that histamine acts a stimulant.
Next question is what controls histamine levels in circulation and what controls histamine levels at night? This gets very complicated but if I had to simplify this into a short theory it would be like this: there is a gate-keeper in our brain (thalamus) which controls the release of histamine necessary for our normal sleep/wake cycle. The released histamine does its job and is subsequently broken down (methylated) by our liver. During sleep time the gate-keeper should be signaling for low histamine levels to allow our brains [click to continue…]
Over the years I’ve tried to fix my leaky gut, dislodge pathogens, improve digestion, correct methylation and balance neurotransmitters for better sleep. In the process, I had to experiment with a ton of supplements and most of the time had negative reactions. This is a list of the particularly bad boys that caused wacky, mysterious, paradoxical reactions.
Interestingly, every single one of these are reported to help sleep in one way or another but not for me. I’ll update this list as I go along on my quest to recovery. If you see a link then I’ve either written about it or created a video.
Glycine – initial experience was good: felt rather relaxed, a bit tired (not fatigued) but eventually worsened my insomnia. I learned later that glycine can actually make things much worse. Being attractive as a GABA precursor it can rapidly turn nasty in ceratin people and convert to Glutamate – a neuroexcitatory neurotransmitter.
L-Glutamine – this one a real devil. First, I felt very relaxed from it but then a day later very alert at night, slight buzzing sound in my head. Insomnia was much worse and lasted quite a few nights. Will never touch it [click to continue…]
Ever wonder why some people don’t heal on their own? While the real answer might be a ‘bit’ more complex than I’m about to render here but in short – this happens when they don’t have the fuel to fire their engines.
Our bodies are way more complex than we’re willing to admit. No amount of 5HTP or B vitamins will ever address our issues in a holistic and synergistic way that our bodies will ‘understand.’ But give the body energy and it will intelligently find ways to channel it into correct organ system in a balanced and most importantly – sustainable way.
QiGong is a very simple practice you can do to improve your health even if you’re exhausted from insomnia. The type I do requires very little physical effort. It builds you up from ground up and awakens your body’s inherent healing wisdom, aka inner teacher. It takes care of all those aspects that we’re not able to deal with our [click to continue…]
After spending a ton of money with a few Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultants and not getting very far I decided to consult with some heavy weight, prominent online guy. Half a year ago I purchased an online consultation with Dr. Joel from drshen.com. I figured he has a huge herbal store and may steer me in the right direction.
After I shared with him all my symptoms he asked a few additional questions that I was happy to answer [click to continue…]
Shamans believe that the best and most effective cure for any illness grows within 100 miles of one’s village. Having used Chinese herbal formulas for years I was skeptical of anything local being as effective but that is until I learned about the medicinal powers of hemp plant and its legal, non-psychoactive extract – cannabidiol, aka CBD.
When I say CBD is like magic I really mean it. Hemp is one of the best researched plants for a variety of ailments but my interest, obviously, is how CBD can affect sleep.
Insomnia has a variety of causes and I believe the main ones are a compromised gut, heart issues, poor methylation, HPA axis dysfunction, and mental stress induced anxiety. Any of these can send your sympathetic nervous system into an overdrive and seriously affect homeostasis – your body’s ability to maintain inner balance. On the other hand, anything that can help restore that balance is worthy of highest [click to continue…]
Do you feel that you take too many supplements? Do you only take the ones you absolutely need? Have you ever made your insomnia worse with supplements? If you’re nodding your head then welcome to my world. In my world – most supplements ruin my sleep even more and cause paradoxical reactions making me feel more poisoned rather than ‘cured.’
I have a mysterious condition that closely resembles adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, dysbiosis and autoimmune issues that leave all doctors scratching their heads. This leaves me to my own devices experimenting with various supplements.
I’ve learned many valuable lessons over the years. Much of it came from other people but most of it comes from my own painful experience. Here is some advice that will hopefully save you a ton of money and sanity.
It Will Work if You Need It
Supplement will only work if you need it. It must address the underlying deficiency which is causing your insomnia or any other health issue. If you are supplementing already ‘normal’ levels it will cause more imbalances. Whatever the effect you will get will be temporary, till your body restores the balance. This is so crucial to ‘get’ because many of us are way over-supplementing with things we don’t need.
The best thing to do before undergoing any supplement regiment is to [click to continue…]
Last week I visited an acupuncturist in a different town. As I far as I could tell he’s the only game in the entire country when it comes to Chinese medicine. After a short evaluation he was very confident that the cause of all my evils is Shen disturbance.
According to the classical explanation – Shen is translated as “spirit” and refers to the spiritual aspect of our being. It embodies consciousness, emotions, and thought. According to TCM: Shen resides in the heart and presides over activities that take place in the mental, spiritual, and creative planes.
The acupuncturist said that when the underlying condition is ‘Shen disturbance’ then treating or tonifying everything else won’t work and cause even more imbalance.
This may answer the question that has haunted me for years: why most supplements have a paradoxical effect and why most TCM tonic herbs help initially but then create more imbalance later.
He said it is true that [click to continue…]
Anyone who has a close relationship with adrenal fatigue and insomnia knows that the condition can be so complex, so mind boggling and so stubborn that it makes you question your own sanity. While studying this condition I’ve read about the most exotic diseases and a variety of causes leading up to them. Perhaps one of the most interesting and straight out of The Matrix is the so called Extracellular Matrix Congestion (ECM).
According to Stephen Christensen on Study.com:
Living tissues are not just accumulations of tightly packed cells. Much of a tissue’s volume is made up of extracellular space (‘extra-‘ meaning ‘outside’ or ‘beyond,’ as in ‘extraterrestrial’). This void is filled with a complex meshwork called the extracellular matrix.
Rather than being inert filler material, like the Styrofoam packing around a shipment of glassware, the extracellular matrix is a dynamic, physiologically active component of all living tissues. In addition to providing structural support for the cells embedded within a tissue, the extracellular matrix guides their division, growth, and development. In other words, the extracellular matrix largely determines how a tissue looks and functions.
The extracellular matrix is made up of proteoglycans, water, minerals, and fibrous proteins. A proteoglycan is composed of a protein core surrounded by long chains of starch-like molecules called glycosaminoglycans.
If a mere definition scares the bejeezus out of you then you’re not alone – this is complex stuff. In more simple terms ECM is biological glue that holds our cells into tissues and allows them to ‘talk to each other.’ ECM connects all spaces of our body and enables our organs communicate to each other.
I believe Dr. Lam was the first to associate EMC congestion with adrenal fatigue and [click to continue…]
Among many of my targets causing insomnia remains SIBO. I wouldn’t say I’m experiencing all the classic symptoms but SIBO is a mysterious beast that manifesting in a mysterious ways. One fact remains – my insomnia is caused by my gut issues. The quest to find the underlying cause remains on course and right now SIBO is in my biggest suspect.
Among many symptoms exhibited by SIBO suffering population is food sensitivities. When I started looking for simple solutions to eliminate SIBO from my suspects I came across FODMAP diet. I had heard of it before but never took it seriously. Once I looked at the high FODMAP list of foods it hit me – these are exactly the same things that I’m sensitive to and among the ones that contribute to insomnia. Honey, for goodness sake, would make me totally sleepless! Why oh why, I couldn’t figure out but now I think SIBO is the culprit. Last week I started the low FODMAPs diet – fingers crossed.
CBD and SIBO – Fiends or Foe?
Having recently discovered CBD oil I immediately got to work – can CBD oil help or hurt with SIBO issues? Is CBD [click to continue…]