Suffering from insomnia when trying to cope with endometriosis adds insult to injury. Laying in the dark, tossing and turning, suffering from pain and discomfort, hormonal disturbances, maybe dealing with the side effects of your drug treatment - this combination can seriously affect your ability to sleep.
Apart from the obvious reasons like pain and discomfort causing insomnia, it is not clear why insomnia with endometriosis is so common. Sleep is vitally important to aid healing. It is the time when most of our cellular regeneration and healing takes place.
Hormones and insomnia
Both high estrogen and low progesterone can be a cause of insomnia.
Many hormones are processed in the liver where specific substances are absorbed into the blood stream and waste is broken down and eliminated (through urine and faeces). When there is too much estrogen in your body, the liver has to work overtime. This can cause restless sleep.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is most active at night from 1 am to 3 am. If you tend to have trouble sleeping during these hours, an overloaded liver (due to high estrogen levels) could be the cause.
As we know, when you have endometriosis it is common to have estrogen dominance, therefore getting your hormones into balance will help towards resolving your sleep issues. Measures you can take to help with insomnia caused by hormone imbalances can include doing a liver detox, improve estrogen metabolism/clearance with supplements like DIM, avoiding xeno-estogens and improving your progesterone levels with nutrients that support progesterone production.
There are other remedies you can try to help with insomnia and improve your ability to sleep. Getting a good nights rest will improve your immune system and can also assist in the natural cycle of detoxification, some of which happens only in your sleep. A good nights sleep will also help you cope with the symptoms of endometriosis much better.
Here are a few things you can try to help you unwind
Relaxing hot bath
A relaxing bath Have a good soak in a hot relaxing bath with epsom salts and essential oils. The epsom salts will help to relax you and can also help to relax your muscles. Add about 2 cups to your bath water. Add some relaxing essential oils like chamomile, lavender, vetiver, bergamot, sandlewood, cedarwood. Then have a good soak and unwind.
Castor oil Packs
Using a castor oil pack in the evening helps to calm the central nervous system, they help to boost the immune system and can aid in relaxation. A good place to use the pack is over the liver area as this will also help to detox your liver at the same time. Castor oil packs are also helpful for pain and inflammation and you can use them on your abdomen to help with the symptoms of pain caused by endometriosis. You will find all the advice you need about castor oil packs HERE
There are lots of sleepy teas. Some good herbals teas for sleep include lavender, chamomile (also helps with muscle cramps and inflammation), lemon balm, valerian (good for insomnia and nervousness), passionflower and magnolia bark. You will also find various herbal sleep teas with a combination of different relaxing herbs. These will not be as strong as relaxing herbal supplements, but drinking herbal teas in the evening will help you to wind down.
Supplements to aid sleep
Many herbs have been used to help with insomnia for centuries. Sometimes herbs are used in combination to increase their effectiveness. Certain minerals and amino acids also having calming and relaxing effects.
Here are some of the best herbs and supplements to help insomnia and to aid relaxation
The roots and rhizomes of valerian are dried to produce this commonly available herb. Studies suggest that valerian is by far the best natural solution for insomnia for most people. Valerian has an effect on the body similar to that of benzodiazepine (an active ingredient in Valium(TM)), but without the dulling effects or next-day lethargy. In addition to insomnia, Valerian can help with anxiety, stress and headaches
Historically, passion flower has been used as a tranquilliser and tobacco substitute. In addition to having a profound effect on the central nervous system, passion flower also acts as an anti-spasmodic on the smooth muscles of the body, including the whole of the digestion system, which accounts for its ability to ease and promote digestion. Passion flower does not have any ill side effects and when used for insomnia results in a restful, relaxing sleep with no grogginess the next morning.
As well as being available as a relaxing tea, Lemon Balm can be used as a herbal supplement to aid sleep. It has a natural relaxing effect on your body and mind, as well as improving cognitive performance.
California Poppy can help provide mental calmness, decrease anxiety and restlessness, and help you get a good night’s sleep. It is most often used as a tincture, where you take 30-40 drops of it before bed each night. You can also purchase it as a herbal supplement.
Most commonly known as a flavouring in beer, Hops have long been used for remedying restlessness, nervousness, and sleeplessness, and Hops-filled pillows are often used by insomniacs.
Often used homeopathically for insomnia and restlessness, and particularly good for children due to its safety record, Wild Lettuce can be taken as a tincture. Wild Lettuce also has pain relieving benefits.
There are certain essential oils that have calming and relaxing properties and can help you unwind to help you drift off to sleep. Try some of the following oils rubbed into your wrists and on the soles of your feet before bed. You can use more than one oil and make yourself a bedtime mix by adding 4/5 drops of each oil into a small bottle of almond carrier oil.
Lavender - is believed to slow down your nervous system and decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, which helps you fall into a deep sleep.
Valerian - in addition to helping you fall asleep faster, Valerian essential oil may improve the quality of your sleep, so you wake up feeling more rested.
Clary Sage - Clary sage helps with relaxation, calming your system and is well known to help induce sleep
Roman Chamomile - the essential oil of Roman Chamomile has been found to be effective in helping to reduce stress, and can also be used to combat mild cases of insomnia
Bergamot - this essential oil signals to your system that it is time for bed by slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Plus, it reduces anxiety and stress.
Ylang ylang - rubbing a small amount of Ylang yang onto your pressure points can help relieve stress and make you feel less anxious too. this can make it easier to drift off to sleep.
Sandlewood - research has also shown sandalwood can have sedative effects, reducing wakefulness and increasing amounts of non-REM sleep.
Certain amino acids have a calming effect on the body. These include glycine, taurine, theanine, gaba, tryptophan. These are all available as individual supplements and can also be found in various sleep remedies in combination. Tryptophan aids in the production of serotonin which in turns assists with sleep. Theanine aids in calming the mind and can calm anxiety and racing thoughts. Both are available as supplements in various doses.
As well as using magnesium as a soak in the bath with Epsom Salts, certain magnesium supplements are also calming. Magnesium glycinate is a good choice to aid relaxation and also helps with nerve pain.
Melatonin is the hormone that assists the body to fall asleep. You can purchase melatonin as a supplement in tablet form or as an under the tongue spray. Doses range from 1mg to 5 mg, but more is not always better.
Tart Cherry Juice
The juice from tart cherries assists in the production of melatonin. It is available as a juice concentrate or in tablet form and is taken in the evening.
CBD oil is gaining popularity for various health issues including insomnia, anxiety and pain. The oil is readily available from many sources including health shops and online. Just a few drops are needed, which are taken under the tongue. CBD oil comes in various strengths and some companies produce oil specifically to help with sleep.
Other sleep tips:
Blue blocking glasses
Use blue blocking glasses in the evening. These will block the blue light that is emitted from laptops and TV's which can have a negative effect on melatonin production.
Use an earthing sheet on your bed. Many people are reporting the benefits of using and earthing sheet to help with insomnia. Earthing is also supposed to help calm the central nervous system.
If you are suffering with high cortisol at night it will disturb your sleep. You can purchase tests online to check your levels of cortisol through the day. You need to do the 4 times a day cortisol saliva test to see if you have a proper cortisol curve. Once you have your results you can treat accordingly with adaptogens to reduce your cortisol if is high.
There are various laboratories online that sell cortisol saliva tests for home testing and your results are usually emailed back to you - quick and simple.
Most people seems to sleep better in a cool bedroom. Open the window in the evening to cool your bedroom if it has been a warm day. Use lightweight bedding, and you can also purchase special cooling pillows.
You need to experiment with different herbs and supplements and remedies to help improve your sleep. When suffering endometriosis you need to practice good sleep hygiene and you can try things like guided meditations, many of which you will find on YouTube