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by Glen Depke

Sleep is one of the simple fundamentals of health that is so dearly missed by so many. The interesting fact though is that many feel that there sleep is fine, yet it is still moderately to severely dysfunctional. 

Let’s start by defining optimal sleep.

  • Getting to be by around 10:00PM (Maybe earlier in the winter and perhaps a bit later in the summer)
  • Waking around 6:00AM (Maybe earlier in the summer and later in the winter)
  • Sleeping soundly through the night 
  • Waking no more than once but easily falling back to sleep
  • Upon waking you bounce out of bed ready to rock and roll for your day

So if you are not achieving this, there are some challenges with sleep. Understand that proper sleep has a direct affect on the whole of your being. During sleep your body does most of its maintenance and repair. Without this your body deteriorates rather quickly which leads to the pain and suffering of disease states. After all a deficiency in sleep leads to accelerated aging, lowered immune function, increased pain, lowered metabolism and increased chance of cancer and brain challenges.

Let’s learn about the two greatest dysfunctions with sleep based on my years of working with thousands of clients. These are challenges with adrenal function and what I call the sleep cycle.

We can first look at the most significant challenge which is poor adrenal function. I say this is the most significant because I have reviewed some 3,800 adrenal test kits in my career and have only seen 4 come back healthy and balanced at the onset of care. Understand that you produce the hormone cortisol in your adrenal glands. Now cortisol is not a bad guy though, it is needed for health function on every level in your body but this does not work well if it is too high or too low.

So what does this have to do with sleep?

Well melatonin, which is another hormone produced in your body, has a very intimate relationship with cortisol. In fact, when your Circadian rhythm is in balance, your cortisol and melatonin will be exact opposites of each other. When cortisol is up, melatonin is down and when cortisol is down, melatonin is up. So when adrenal function is poor and cortisol is “all over the place” this will affect melatonin, thus affecting your sleep cycle. 

I actually see this all the time in my practice but thankfully for this particular challenge, addressing the adrenal challenges more often than not, takes care of the sleep cycles.

If poor sleep cycles are an issue with you, I would recommend testing your adrenal function with a comprehensive adrenal saliva kit, which looks at adrenal function but also reviews melatonin levels. I always recommend a comprehensive adrenal saliva test kit whenever a client has a health issue and sleep cycle challenges. 

The close runner up in the cause of poor sleep cycles is a breakdown in what I refer to as your proper sleep sequencing. The list of proper sleep sequencing is list below for you:

  • Proper protein consumption
  • Proper digestion
  • Conversion of protein consumption to uptake of an amino acid l-Tryptophan
  • Conversion of l-Typtophan to 5-HTP
  • Conversion of 5-HTP to  the neurotransmitter Serotonin
  • Conversion of Serotonin to the hormone Melatonin 

Now I know that many practitioners actually recommend melatonin but I do not. I do not want to say that they do it wrong, I’ll just say I do it different. Based on the flow listed above you can see that the melatonin is last in production, so if there is a deficiency in melatonin, it is generally much earlier in production. I would start first with addressing your diet and digestion. To assist with getting your nutritional choices right, assess your Nutritional ID. To aid in proper digestion, I always recommend the Depke Wellness Prime Digestive Support and the Prebiotic/Probiotic Formula. These can be found at the Depke Wellness Store.

For some that have severe sleep cycle sequencing deficiencies, there may be some further comprehensive supplementation such as the use of l-tryptophan, serotonin and aids to melatonin but I save these recommendations for one on one consultations with my clients.

A recommendation that I can make is to work on improving your nutrition, improving your digestion and possibly adding a l-tryptophan supplement. This works well for most and could very well be what you need.

I want to be clear though, this this is all for naught if your adrenals are dysfunction and the reason I always look at adrenal function first.

Let’s also look at look at a few sleep myths today:

  • You can make up for lost sleep by sleeping more another day
  • Senior citizens need less sleep
  • The use of drugs provides optimal sleep
  • It does not matter the time you go to bed, as long as you get 8 hours of sleep

These are the four main sleep myths that I hear with consistency and they are just that…myths.

One last point to make is tied into sleep drugs that so many individuals in our culture use on a regular basis. While these drugs may assist with hours slept, they do not produce a deep restorative sleep and some of these drugs may actually cause muscle aches and pains, depression, fatigue and brain fog. 

If you have any comments or questions with this article, please leave this below for me to address personally.