Insomnia: a Telltale Sign of Stress

Patients tell me “I can’t sleep”, “I’m tired all the time, but when I get into bed at night, I just can’t fall asleep!”

Why is this such a common problem? Understand that insomnia is a stress reaction. In fact it’s usually the first sign that your body is stressed out and out of balance.

An estimated 85% of American adults admit that they suffer from stress and stress related illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure and stomach ulcers. But well before those conditions manifest, the patient will have insomnia or problems with their sleep.

Stress can be mental or physical in fact both can be affected and they are interrelated. It is a well documented fact that the body-mind connection exists and there are several early warning signs that stress levels are on their way to becoming a major health problem.

One of the earliest signs of stress becoming a problem includes a change in sleep habits. If you have trouble getting to sleep because your mind is racing, or you are able to fall asleep but wake up consistently at a certain hour in the middle of the night, it means your body requires attention. Many people report they suffer from Insomnia, but very little if anything is done to fix it.

The body has ways of letting you know something is wrong well before it totally breaks down. As long as you can decipher the code, you can understand what the body is trying to communicate and get it resolved quickly. Whether you only get up once at night to urinate or several times throughout the night, this is what you need to know.

Hours you are awake:

  • 11pm-1am (Gallbladder)
  • 1am-3am (Liver)
  • 4am (Adrenal)
  • 5am (Prostate for men, Genitourinary for women)

If you have a hard time getting to sleep between the hours of 11pm and 1am, perhaps you find yourself making lists of things to do for the next day and you lie awake with worries on your mind and around 1am you finally get to sleep, it’s a gallbladder issue.

The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile. Bile breaks down fat. So the gallbladder makes sure the fat you eat gets broken down and eliminated from the body. You may already be experiencing sensitivity to milk based products such as ice-cream and find yourself racing to the restroom within minutes of consuming dairy. This usually starts out sporadically, not every time you eat dairy. It can also occur when you eat a fatty meal, your stools may be loose and you will likely have frequent diarrhea. If this describes the symptoms you are having, and you can’t get to sleep before 1am then you need to take steps now to prevent losing your gallbladder.

You may have already had your gallbladder removed. If this is the case you need to realize that you no longer have the organ that breaks down the fatty foods you consume. This creates a new stress for your body as the fat will begin to accumulate in your blood vessels and this can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease later on. For those who have had their gallbladder removed it is absolutely vital that you supplement your diet to include bile salts and other elements to emulsify the fats you eat in order to prevent heart disease.

If you are able to fall sleep but wake up anytime between the hours of 1am-3am, it’s liver dysfunction.

Your liver is like the air filter in your house. It filters all the toxins out of your blood and eliminates it from the body. So if your liver is over burdened, like the dirty air-filter you change in your house, the symptoms will be soreness in the muscles, leg cramps or tension in your back, generalized fatigue, pain in your joints and flu-like symptoms. Many people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia have an overly toxic liver. And the beginning stages of this will be waking up between the hours of 1am-3am.

If any of these liver symptoms sound familiar to you, it would be advisable for you to do a liver detoxification under the supervision of a health care practitioner as it will do a lot to alleviate the stress on your liver.

What if you wake up at 4am everyday. This is particularly annoying because your alarm may be set for 6am, but you are wide awake at 4am and frustrated that you can’t fall back asleep, but just as you finally doze off, your alarm wakes you up. This is the beginning of adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion means that your stress organ is maxed out. The adrenal glands exist to handle stress levels in your body. And the adrenals are a principal player in your hormonal system.  When they are maxed out you feel tired and worn out. If you find yourself going to Starbucks to get a caramel macchiato in the middle of the afternoon just to make it through your work day. Or you find yourself crashed out asleep on the couch at 5:30pm when you get home from work, unable to stay awake or enjoy your family this is adrenal fatigue. Other symptoms include inability to deal with even moderate stress, for these folks if one more person puts another thing on their overflowing plate they will freak out! Often these people have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and long before any of these symptoms show up they wake up at 4am.

Now let’s say it’s the weekend and you don’t even have to get up for work but you find yourself awake everyday at 5am no matter what. It could have been this way for years and you’ve just gotten used to it and decided to start your day early every morning. If you are male, this is the earliest sign of Prostate problems. If you are female it’s a genitourinary problem.

Prostate problems are common and if they are not addressed can lead to more serious issues. Symptoms of prostate problems include hesitation at the urinal, it may take awhile for the urine stream to start. A noticeable decrease in the force with which the urine stream flows, it may wax and wane, sometimes forceful, sometimes not. If you have erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, incomplete erection or inability to perform when the desire is there. You may already be taking medication for this issue, but the side effects of these medications often have negative consequences for your heart.

No one wants this problem! Early signs include waking up at 5am before the alarm goes off to urinate. To learn more about what can be done to avoid the problem from progressing to this stage, you should consider options which address the root cause and not mask the problem with medications with harmful side effects. Because the underlying condition has many contributing factors it is recommended that you rule out any physical reason. Contrary to popular belief age is not a forgone conclusion that you will suffer from ED and prostate problems. Many men of all ages have these symptoms and have been able to resolve the problem entirely depending on the cause.

For women who wake up at 5am, it’s a genitourinary concern. Symptoms of this can include excessive bleeding during their monthly cycle, a history of fibroids or endometriosis, irregular periods or no period at all. Often before any of these symptoms occur a woman will start to wake up at 5am.

Some people just say, “hey you know I drink a lot of water during the day and I get up at night to pee, and that’s what wakes me up, but I go right back to sleep again”. This may be true, but getting up in the middle of the night is the first sign of stress in your body, and not necessarily related to urination. Recall when you were a child, you drank a lot of water but most children don’t get up in the middle of the night to pee. This is because their bodies are in balance and they don’t suffer from stress.

A healthy person sleeps straight through the night without interruption. If you have trouble sleeping it should not be ignored. I have tried to illustrate that if left unaddressed these problems will get worse. Obviously, if you are not getting proper rest, then you are tired during the day. This can contribute to lack of concentration at work, strain on your relationships with others and eventually that will spill into every aspect of your life. If you feel that you are pushing yourself from day to day trying to just “get through the day”, consider that this is an existence, not a life. You should wake up feeling well rested, ready to attack the day, not hitting the “snooze” button several times before you finally roll out of bed.

Life is meant to be enjoyable, there are things that can be done to get you sleeping through the night. Allowing you to finally obtain the much needed rest you have been lacking is key to a healthy mind and body, and will do a great deal to keep you from feeling the effects of aging.