Newsletter: Insomnia? Test these specific hormones & neurotransmitters

Did you know insomnia is one of the more common functional medicine conditions we treat? Insomnia is a condition where you have trouble sleeping – difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or a combination of both. Depression, anxiety and other worries of life are many times to blame. From a functional medicine point of view we can help people get to the root cause.

Two hormones are critical to test: cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol is your stress hormone which is secreted by the adrenal glands. When you have chronic stress, often cortisol production goes into overdrive and stays elevated through the night when it should instead be quite low. This can really disrupt sleep. At night melatonin levels should increase while cortisol levels decrease. Melatonin helps to induce sleep. Cortisol and melatonin hormones can be assessed through a simple saliva test. Most people who have insomnia have imbalances in one or both of these vital hormones.

The other area of exploration is to test the neurotransmitters of the body. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers produced in the brain and other parts of the body to help regulate our mood, energy, motivation and sleep. Some examples of these neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, GABA and phenylethylmine. Most people with depression, anxiety or insomnia have imbalances in some of these key neurotransmitters. We use a simple urine test to assess these levels. The bottom line is we can find the root cause or imbalance in the body that is leading to your insomnia. Then we can tailor a specific treatment approach for you to balance your hormones and neurotransmitters.

We have helped several patients over the past few years find improved sleep quality after having struggled in some cases for months or years. Most over-the-counter approaches and prescription drugs don’t work because without proper testing it is a total guess as to what may or may not work. Also most prescription sleep aids are highly addictive. If you have insomnia find and treat the cause. We are here to help. Read our “What is Functional Medicine?” handout to learn more.