In today’s #ASKDRDUIZER we are talking sleep. It has been one of Amy’s top trends for 2016 and after the first few months the passion for improving sleep has calmed. Today’s article is bringing sleep back!

Are you having difficulty falling asleep? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling back asleep? Check out today’s edition of #ASKDRDUIZER.

Amy and I have done multiple podcast episodes on sleep optimization. They are linked below:

One note that isn’t covered below is that melatonin testing is now available for those who are unsure about their levels or who don’t seem to respond to melatonin supplements. It has been incredibly helpful for diagnosing difficult cases of insomnia.
Good nights sleep
#ASKDRDUIZER – “Please let me know what you suggest for a good night’s sleep”

My core recommendations for a great night’s sleep depend on the type of insomnia and the cause. In my practice my goal is to bring patients back to optimal wellness. Sleep is one of the most important pillars in overall health. Sleep is necessary for every cellular, organ and physiological function in the body. Without sleep health deteriorates extremely quickly and insomnia is a risk factor in nearly every major chronic condition.

Sleep loss is divided into two categories – sleep onset insomnia and sleep maintenance insomnia. Both are troublesome and when they occur simultaneously physical, mental and emotional issues often develop. Figuring out the cause is the most important place to start.

The causes of insomnia vary from stress/anxiety to body pain and can include substance abuse and restless legs. It is important to work with a medical professional to discover your cause if you are currently suffering.

What supplements can you recommend for sleep?

Insomnia supplementation can range from herbal therapy like ashwaghanda, passionflower and chamomile to nutrients and biological agents such as melatonin, tryptophan and magnesium.

In most cases of mild occasional insomnia low dose melatonin will be effective. In situations where muscle tension and pain are the cause of loss of sleep magnesium glycinate is an effective natural supplement. In racing mind, stress and worry ashwaghanda, passionflower and chamomile can be effective.

Do these work as supplements and if so why?
Magnesium – Why? Magnesium glycinate is used to relax muscle hypertonicity and relieve tension.
Bentonite Clay – I do not use Bentonite clay in insomnia.
Tryptophan – Why? Tryptophan can be helpful because it is metabolized to melatonin in the brain. It is helpful in cases of mild depression and insomnia as a side effect.
Melatonin – why? Melatonin is a key hormone in human circadian rhythm management. It plays an important role in sleep-wake cycles by letting the body know when it is time for sleep so that you can fall asleep quicker and stay asleep throughout the night.

Is it recommended to visit a sleep specialist or clinic?

If you have worked with a Naturopathic Physician or Medical Doctor and haven’t had any success with your insomnia it is recommended that you visit a sleep clinic.

How does cortisol levels effect health and sleep?

When cortisol, the stress hormone, is high melatonin production is low and sleep is unlikely. Managing cortisol levels is one of the most important tasks in sleep management. When cortisol is high immune system function can be altered and healing is reduced.

Does obesity effect Sleep Apnea?

Obesity is a major risk factor in sleep apnea.

How does body toxicity effect sleep?

By body toxicity I assume you mean one of three categories – heavy metal toxicity, poor detox because of maldigestion and lack of exercise and wireless technology toxicity.

Each of these examples can affect sleep in different ways. Proper management of inflammation, bowel function and external exposures is important to mitigate your risks of toxin overload. By reducing hormone production and neurotransmitter production these examples can disrupt sleep.

Does exercise work?

Exercise is very important in proper sleep. It contributes to healthy neurotransmitter development, helps to manage cortisol levels and fatigues the muscles. When the body needs to repair from a workout sleep is necessary.

If so, what is the latest we should exercise?

This question depends on the person. Some can exercise just before bed and not be affected. Others need a 2-3 hour buffer before sleep.

What about sleep rhythms?

Sleep rhythms depend on melatonin release. This is mentioned above.

What about light, does it effect sleep? Does the use of phones, computers, TV, effect sleep?

Light, especially blue light from devices, causes the pineal gland in the brain to restrict melatonin release and can subsequently cause insomnia. It is important to sleep is a dark room and to avoid technology 45-60 minutes before sleep.

How can we prepare our rooms for sleep?

The best way to prepare your room for and optimal sleep is to make sure it is very dark, cool and quiet.

Is visualization or breathing exercises recommended and if so, how do they work on the mind and body?

Visualization and breathing exercises can be helpful for those who are experiencing high cortisol followed by racing mind and anxiety. They help to stimulation the parasympathetic nervous system which can stop cortisol release.

Are there any medications that are good for sleep?

There are medications that are helpful for sleep. They aren’t meant to be taken long term but they can be very helpful to reset sleep-wake cycles. They aren’t an ideal solution to insomnia and are only recommended as a last resort. Consult your medical professional for more information.

Prayer, meditating on AFFIRMATIVE words, I.e. Prayer.

Any type of spiritual practice that can be helpful in calming the mind and relaxing the body can be helpful in insomnia. I have had many patients experience success using prayer, mediation and affirmations in cases of sleep onset insomnia.

What other recommendations can you make regarding sleep?

Finally, I recommend restricting fluids 1 hour before bed to prevent waking to urinate. Waking to urinate is a major cause of sleep maintenance insomnia and needs to be managed appropriately.


Dr. David Duizer is a co-founder of and a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a passionate, driven, motivated leader in integrative medicine focused on optimal wellbeing, holistic healing and natural health.

To learn more about Dr. David Duizer Click Here. Connect with David on Twitter @davidduizer, Facebook, and Google+.