Testing for Insomnia: Do I Have Low Melatonin?
Insomnia is a common problem that affects nearly 30 percent of the population. Many underlying factors can contribute to insomnia and they may be due to a physiological problem or may be related to mental and emotional factors such as anxiety or depression. One common cause of insomnia is an imbalance in the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. For the circadian rhythm to function correctly, cortisol (promotes wakefulness) and melatonin (promotes sleep) need to be in proper balance. Oftentimes, stress, overwork, night shift work, chronic pain, or the overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol can disrupt the delicate cortisol-melatonin equilibrium resulting in difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep.
There is an easy way to determine your melatonin levels using a non-invasive saliva test. Melatonin is made in the pineal gland in the brain and can be tested in the saliva. This is generally used in conjunction with an adrenal saliva cortisol test to determine if the adrenal glands are functioning optimally.
Patients who come in for insomnia have often already tried over-the-counter melatonin with some success, but for others it is not effective or can even make insomnia worse. Taking too much melatonin can have a negative impact on sleep and can affect other hormones in the body. For this reason, it is important to investigate the root cause of the insomnia to help guide the treatment plan. Schedule a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor at Arizona Natural Medicine to help evaluate any potential hidden causes of your insomnia.