What is it?
People who suffer from insomnia get either too little sleep or the sleep they get is not very restful and refreshing. The problem does not necessarily have anything to do with the number of hours you sleep at night; it has to do with the quality of that sleep. For some, the problem is having trouble falling asleep in the first place. For others, the chronic tiredness comes from waking up too early in the morning. Some people fall asleep with no trouble, but wake up several times during the night and struggle to get back to sleep.
No matter what the pattern, insomnia leaves you feeling tired, sometimes even after sleeping 7 to 8 hours. This lack of adequate rest causes problems during the day – excessive sleepiness, fatigue, trouble thinking clearly or staying focused, or feeling depressed/irritable.
What causes it?
Insomnia may be a temporary problem induced by situational stress at home or at work, having a poor sleep environment (too much light, noise, or a partner who snores), or even certain medications. This type of short-term or occasional insomnia can last from a single night to a few weeks or occur from time to time.
If insomnia persists for at least three nights a week for over a month or more, you should see your physician about possible underlying medical causes. If this is not the case, your physician can help you identify patterns (working erratic shifts, not exercising, drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime, etc.) that might help positively alter your sleep patterns.
What role might cytokines play?
How MNT improves insomnia is unknown. A majority of patients presenting to our clinic complain of insomnia. A majority improve sleep when following the Plan. Some improvement may be due to other related medical conditions, such as sleep apnea, acid reflux, or even improved oxygen exchange from better blood flow. No specific cytokines have been related to general insomnia related to anxiety. Perhaps, improved metabolism related to balanced cytokine production (see other disease sections) lowers adrenalin and cortisone levels, which are known to aggravate insomnia.
What results could I expect with MNT?
Those suffering from insomnia often note improvement on the MNT Plan. Why this occurs is unknown; however, we suspect that improved brain function is related to improved nutrition or improved metabolism. Also, we know that branched-chain amino acids benefit patients suffering from a number of conditions that cause insomnia (depression, acid reflux, sleep apnea, arthritis, etc.), and not getting enough restful sleep complicates these conditions. Because of this interplay, you don’t know if your insomnia got better because your arthritis symptoms eased (for example), or whether your arthritis symptoms improved because you’re finally getting a good night’s rest on a regular basis.
How can I measure symptom change on the plan?
First, you need to be clear about what might be causing your insomnia. Talk to your doctor about your medical and sleep history. Find out if there is an underlying medical problem that needs attention.
If you have chronic insomnia, you will want to measure how severe each symptom is for you. This will give you a baseline to compare with future measurements. Most importantly, you (and your doctor) need a way to measure progress over time. Measure your symptoms again after four weeks of following each Food Phase. Take the results to your doctor and discuss how your symptoms have changed using the Plan.