Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout life. Sufficient quality sleep helps to protect your mental and physical health. The damaging effect from sleep deprivation can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can raise your risk for some chronic health problems over time. It can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.


How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The amount of sleep you need each day varies over the course of your life. The chart below shows the general recommendations for different age groups. This table is recommended by American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Insomnia Coffs Harbour


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Problem Sleepiness?

How sleepy you feel during the day can help you figure out whether you’re having symptoms of problem sleepiness. You might be sleep deficient if you often feel like you could doze off while:

Sitting and reading or watching TV
Sitting still in a public place, such as a movie theater, meeting, or classroom
Riding in a car for an hour without stopping
Sitting and talking to someone
Sitting quietly after lunch
Sitting in traffic for a few minutes


A few “key” considerations to solve insomnia

1. Dietary choices

Be aware that your inability to fall asleep can be a rebound effect from what you ate or drank during the hours prior to bedtime. High sugar, alcohol, highly spiced foods and of course, caffeinated drinks are often the culprits.

2. Nutrients deficiency

Deficient in chromium, vanadium, manganese and other nutrients can lead to hypoglycemic rebound a few hours into your sleep, when you abruptly wake-up and are unable to drift back to sleep.

3. Level of  serotonin, the “happy hormones/brain chemical”

We produce serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan, and serotonin is converted into melatonin to induce sleep.

Dozens of studies show that low tryptophan levels lead to insomnia, awakening feeling unrested, inability to stay asleep after getting there, and just lying there all night watching the clock.

For over a quarter of a century, studies have proven this amino produces a great sleep in many with no side effects. In fact, it can result in better mental clarity during the day. Furthermore, it improves daytime depression, PMS, fibromyalgia, and anxiety as well as carbohydrate cravings, binge-eating and even alcohol recovery.

Now from a functional medicine position it is important to know that a simple B6 or zinc deficiency can contribute to insomnia. A common vitamin B6 deficiency can keep you awake all night, or low zinc causing impaired conversion of B6, which is needed to make tryptophan work. If you have an elevated organic acid, kynurenate acid, for example, and a low tryptophan, the correction of B6 may be all you need. Plasticizers in our bodies lower zinc which is needed in the enzyme to convert B6 to its active form so it can then transform tryptophan to a serotonin.

Balancing nutritional biochemistry is one of the essential keys to resolve insomnia, together with good sleep hygiene, and implementing relaxation techniques to reduce stress level.

4. Gut Health

Serotonin is an important player for sleep and moods, and the majority (up to 95%) of serotonin is made in the gut rather than in the brain.

To solve your insomnia problem, you also need to ensure you have optimal gut health. If you experience gas, bloating, alternating diarrhea or constipation or other gut issues, you must investigate and correct your gut to promote the production of serotonin.


Strategies for Getting Enough Sleep

You can take steps to improve your sleep habits:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
  • Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
  • Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
  • Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
  • Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
  • Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.
  • Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.
  • Napping during the day may provide a boost in alertness and performance. However, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, limit naps or take them earlier in the afternoon. Adults should nap for no more than 20 minutes.


Insomnia could be resolved by understanding the cause and making better choices in diet, lifestyle, supplementations, and sleep hygiene etc.  The secret is to find a doctor who understands the probable underlying causes of insomnia and knows how to do the proper testing to discover what needs to be fixed.






Schmidt HS, L-tryptophan in the treatment of impaired respiration in sleep, Bull Eur Physiopathol Respir, 19; 6:625-9, 1983

Demisch K, et al, Treatment of severe chronic insomnia with Ltryptophan: results of a double-blind cross-over study, Pharmocopsychiatry, 20; 6:242-4, 1987

Hartmann E, Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep, J Psychiatr Res, 17; 2:1-7-13, 1982

Ashley DV, et al, Evidence for diminished brain 5-hydroxytrptamine biosynthesis in obese diabetic and non-diabetic humans, Am J Clin Nutr, 42; 6:1240-5, 1985

Riemann D, et al, The tryptophan depletion test: impact on sleep in primary insomnia – a pilot study, Psychiatry Res, 109; 2:129-35, 2002

Schneider-Helmert D, et al, Evaluation of L-tryptophan for treatment of insomnia: a review, Psychopharmacol (Berl), 89; 1:1-7, 1986

Grisanti, R,

NIH, What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?

Image retrieved from


The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and clinical experiences. You are encouraged to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.


“He who has health, has hope; and he who
has hope, has everything.”

Thomas Carlye