woman sleeping in the office

Having a poor night’s sleep can result from more than just stress. Stress and sleep are often inter-connected by the influx or lack of chemicals like serotonin and melatonin or GABA and Norepinephrine  within your system. These, in turn, can affect the Beta/Rem/Theta waves of sleep. Hormones and nutrients have a huge impact on how well you sleep. At BodyPro Wellness Center, we want to help improve your sleep cycles through our nutritional guidance and support. 

What Factors Affect Your Sleep Cycle? 

Our sleep cycle is made up of several different stages of brain wave activity, each defined by the frequency and amplitude of brain waves. These brain waves help define how the body responds to different stimuli based on the hormones present within the body. These types of brain waves include:

  • REM waves of sleep: REM sleep is the stage of sleep where most dreaming occurs. It’s a period of rapid eye movement and brain activity that’s similar to when you’re awake. 
  • Beta waves of sleep: Beta waves have the highest frequency and lowest amplitude of other waves. They are the type of wave that occurs when the brain’s in its most active state or spontaneously during REM sleep. 
  • Theta waves of sleep: Theta refers to sleeping or dreaming but doesn’t appear during the deepest phases of sleep. They’re usually considered the first indicator of sleepiness.

But even defining these waves doesn’t completely outline the causes of insomnia. The exact mechanisms behind what causes poor quality sleep aren’t clear. Still, many researchers have suggested that the incidence of insomnia is linked to various factors. These factors include epi-genetics (genes that can be affected by lifestyle or nutrient levels, nutrient metabolism, poor immune system function, inflammation, cortisol, blood sugar handlin, and poor hormonal balances. Stress and sleep are some of the most common inter-connecting factors when people think of a poor night’s sleep. Beyond that, truly understanding how our bodies work can help improve our sleep cycles. These factors include:

Genetics: When we refer to genetics, we’re referring to the receptors, key proteins, and transporter genes that impact the genetics of serotonin. People with significantly fewer receptors or different genetic factors altogether might experience poorer sleep quality. This poor quality is due to the inconsistency or lack of serotonin receptors within the brain. It can lead to unbalanced levels of hormone activity. 

Hormones: Many people are already familiar with the relationship between serotonin and melatonin, cortisol and melatonin. These and various other hormones affect the brain’s internal chemistry. One particular hormone, catecholamines, also affects sleep patterns because they’re the response hormone to physical or emotional stress. Dopamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline are all types of catecholamines. They’re overproduced in those with anxiety and PTSD moreso than in those who don’t have these conditions.  Additionally, gut bacteria can over-produce histamines and dopamine-like chemicals which can enter our bloodstream and affect our ability to calm the mind.

Nutrients: Nutrients, a factor that can be more easily controlled, also significantly impact sleep quality. Within the gut microbiome are bacterial metabolites of serotonin, making it difficult to sleep. The gut microbiome contains the metabolites that can eliminate the amount of serotonin produced within the gut. This affects the sleep-wake cycle. Another example of this is GABA. This amino acid is made in the brain and found in certain foods that work as a neurotransmitter for the brain. GABA acts as a main inhibitory neurotransmitter that can impact sleep when there’s not enough of it.   GABA can be affected by blood sugar levels.

Nutritional Guidance From BodyPro Wellness Center

Beyond the usual recommendation of staying away from caffeine, our physicians can help you get better sleep by guiding you through nutrition. They give you the ins and outs of how nutrition impacts hormone activity and sleep. For more information about how we can help you get better sleep, we suggest scheduling an appointment with our practice today!