Sleepless & Desperate For Shut-Eye? 18 Reasons You Aren’t Sleeping


We are a sleepless nation. According to the National Institute of Health, “50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness, hindering daily functioning and adversely affecting health and longevity.”  In fact, sleep shortages contribute to mental health issues, inflammation, heart disease, metabolic consequences, lowered immunity, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, among other ills.  And those of us with sleepless children can attest to how torturous it can be.  The most frequent sleep problems noted for kids are a difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep, not falling asleep in their own bed, nightmares and frequent waking.

So, how much sleep do we need?

Children ages 1-3 = 12-14 hours per night

Children ages 3-5 = 11-13 hours per night

Children ages 5-11 = 10-11 hours per night

Persons over 11 = 8.5 -9.5 hours per night

When we aren’t sleeping, we desperately seek help from our conventional doctors. They look inside their toolbox and offer medication that only masks symptoms and comes with side-effects.  Unfortunately, they are trained to virtually ignore nutritional requirements, holistic approaches and natural remedies—even when the latter aren’t only cheaper and more effective, but sometimes the only good option.

It is estimated that approximately one-third of those diagnosed with a sleeping disorder start taking a medication like Ambien or Belsomra. About half of us have with sleeplessness report using an over-the-counter medication (nightly) for a year or longer. And others, take a very powerful hormone supplement called melatonin.

These practices are extremely alarming.  Some become very dependent on sleep medication while others report changes in behavior, irritability, digestive woes, nervousness, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, memory loss, hallucinations, and even paralysis.

What about melatonin supplements?

Even though supplements are often recommended, we must realize that melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator –  and NOT a sleeping pill. Melatonin also carries many risks. Melatonin is a hormone derived from serotonin and produced by the pineal gland that plays a role in sleep, aging, and reproduction in mammals. Vitamin B3, B6, B9 and the amino acid tryptophan trigger the production of serotonin, which then triggers the production of melatonin in the brain. I say, give the body the co-factors the brain needs to make it. Otherwise we risk increased seizure activity, testicular atrophy (reduced testicle size and/or loss of function), and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, agitation, nightmares, constipation, and other behavioral changes. Also, giving melatonin supplementation could mess with our natural circadian rhythm and signal the brain to stop making it naturally.

So, what should a sleepless person do?

It is important to seek out a physician that will dig deeper. I have found the most helpful physicians were homeopathic practitioners, doctors of naturopathic medicine, as well as Integrative and Functional Medicine Doctors. Practitioners of Functional and Integrative Medicine take the whole person into account (body, mind, and spirit), and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative. The Functional Medicine model considers the diagnosis, of course, but also seeks to answer the question, “Why does this person have this illness?”
My book titled, Healing without Hurting  goes into great detail about the numerous non-medication recommendations, but here is a quick checklist of possible reasons “why” a person may suffer with insomnia, sleep apnea and restlessness.  If you suffer from a sleep disorder, I would highly recommend you investigate these possible contributors with your health practitioner.
  1. Adrenal fatigue and low cortisol.
  2. Hormone imbalances causing anxiety.
  3. Asthma.
  4. Thyroid problems.
  5. Food sensitivities, reflux and other negative food reactions.
  6. Eating protein too close to bedtime which keeps the digestive system active.
  7. Drinking caffeine and taking SSRIs and stimulant medication.
  8. Drinking alcohol or taking other drugs.
  9. Taking over-the-counter cold  medication and  blood pressure medication.
  10. Exercising too late in the day.
  11. Vitamin B3, B5, B6 and/or B9 deficiency.
  12. Vitamin D deficiency.
  13. Amino acid deficiency or imbalance. Look into GABA  and tryptophan levels.
  14. Deficiency of important minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium.
  15. Obesity, Hypoglycemia and imbalanced sugar levels.
  16. Large adenoids and  tonsils, which  may require medical attention.
  17. Habits such as taking naps during the day, watching television, and playing on the computer late at night  instead of taking time to wind down in the evening.
  18. A highly stressful lifestyle.

Please check  my  website, book  or Facebook  to get  more healthful tips on how to treat autoimmune disorders, ADHD,  sleep issues, mood disorders, and  autism – naturally and effectively without medication.

Healing without Hurting: Treating ADHD, Apraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorders Naturally & Effectively without Harmful Medication.

Jennifer Giustra-Kozek is a board-certified psychotherapist with a Master of Science in Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in English/Criminal Justice. She has worked in private practice for over 15 years treating clients with an array of mental health disorders including Asperger’s, depression, anxiety, OCD and ADHD. More recently she is the author of an award winning book, entitled Healing Without Hurting: Treating ADHD, Apraxia, and Autism Spectrum Disorders Naturally and Effectively without Harmful Medication. She is also a national speaker for universities & national conferences: conducting workshops for parents, teachers, and other healthcare practitioners. She has written numerous articles, has done nervous webcasts and has been interviews by Fox and NBC.

In 2012, she began counseling families and first responders after the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This led her to finish her book and consult with thousands of moms through social media to teach them about alternative and natural solutions for healing autism spectrum disorders. Since the creation of her page on Facebook called, “Healing ADHD & Asperger’s Without Hurting,” Kozek has amassed a following of over 100,000 weekly visitors, who turn to her for guidance and support as they desperately search for help for their children.