Integra Naturopathics, which began as a natural health centre to treat issues with infertility and has since blossomed into a family practice with a focus on treating autoimmune disorders.
Echoing Dr. Samuels’ statements about sleep, Dr. Arnel explained that sleep is a time for the body to regenerate, restore, and rebuild. Nutrients are processed, the immune and endocrine systems undergo maintenance, and the brain repairs itself. “In babies, for example, there is a lot more going on during sleep than expected. As babies sleep, everything they learned and saw during the day is processed and organized, and from a neurological standpoint, integrated.”
While many clients come to the clinic for help with insomnia, it is not insomnia that he treats. “Insomnia is a symptom of an underlying imbalance in the body,” said Dr. Arnel. Using the acronym “SAME,” which stands for “sleep, appetite, mood, and energy,” he seeks to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Usually, it relates to one of the following: adrenal function, hormonal imbalances, blood sugar regulation, and/or appetite. These areas can be addressed through nutrition, supplementation, and other lifestyle changes.
“Nutrition is the first thing I look at,” he said, “as it is the building block of the body.” For example, is the patient consuming an adequate amount of the right kinds of protein and fat, which supply essential amino acids that help nourish the brain and support the nervous system? Bone broth is a good source and can be made at home inexpensively and frozen for later use.
Hormonal imbalances can be righted through the use of various herbs, which are not as aggressive as drugs. These herbs encourage the body to regulate certain hormones, which provides a long-term solution instead of a short-lived quick fix.
Lifestyle changes are more difficult to effect, as it takes work to change ingrained habits. He made a few suggestions, the first of which is to go to bed before 10:30 p.m. at least 80 percent of the time, or five nights a week. Research shows that the best amount and quality of sleep occurs between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
Deep breathing can also help to increase the amount and quality of sleep as it pushes the body into the relaxed state necessary for sleep. Do ten deep breaths before bed each night, in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly.
Find time to exercise, and be sure to vary the kinds of activities you do, as this variance brings on a different response in the body, which then leads to better rest. Dr. Arnel recommends tai chi and yoga.
Contact Arnel and Andrea at Integra Naturopathics