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The three body system approach to insomnia


Cortisol levels in our body should be at their highest when we awake and then rapidly decrease around noon and then continue to glide downward until it's time to go to sleep when they should be at their lowest. Abnormalities in this diurnal rhythm can make it hard to wake up, hard to to fall asleep and everything in between. Adrenal hormones regulate our internal clock and when this rhythm goes awry havoc results. Low melatonin and low progesterone levels may cause sleep issues. Dr. Richart will recommend saliva cortisol testing to check for abnormal levels of cortisol, and DHEA as well as checking the total production of cortisol and DHEA, cortisol/DHEA ratio and will check for a normal diurnal rhythm or circadian rhythm. Prior to using any hormones lab testing is necessary.


Poor diets lead to poor supply and absorption of minerals. Poor farming and harvest practices leads to nutrient deficient foods. Junk and convenience foods are nutrient deficient. The way we prepare foods decreases the nutrient value as well. All of this can lead to deficiencies in calcium and magnesium that make it difficult to get a good nights sleep. The inability to absorb these nutrients and others my contribute to sleep issues.

Low stomach acid levels can lead to poor protein digestion which leads to low levels of serotonin. Serotonin is necessary for proper sleep.


Hormone issues and digestive issues inevitably lead to detoxification issues. If you awake at night between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and can't get back to sleep you may have a problem with detoxification. The liver is most active during the early morning in detoxification. Nightmares, headaches, restlessness and night sweats can also accompany insomnia.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a Chinese “meridian clock” shows what time of a day each organ is most active. The liver is most active between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. The gallbladder, another detox organ, is most active from 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. That's half of the night! It could be your detox system that is keeping you up at night.

As you have learned your insomnia can be caused by many things. Functional medicine strives to find the underlying cause of your insomnia through lab testing.