Snooze Series Part 1: Neurotransmitters Could Be the Key to Sleeping Beauty Status
Oct 8, 2018
What are Neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that, when working properly, transmit signals to other parts of the body to help it function. These messengers affect your body both physically and psychologically, and can impact your heart rate, appetite, mood and sleep patterns. While all seven main neurotransmitters present in the brain need to work together to keep the brain functioning at optimal levels, serotonin and GABA are the main two that impact our sleep patterns, and could possibly be the key to those sweet, sweet REM cycles.
Serotonin and Sleep
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in mood disorders, cravings and sleep. When it’s low, it triggers depression, anxiety, cravings, sleep disturbances and sleep disorders, impacting not only your nightly routine, but also how you function during the day. Serotonin is also the first step in the creation of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles, so when your serotonin is out of balance, it makes it even harder for you to fall and stay asleep.
While neurotransmitters cross through the brain, they are not always made there. It is estimated that at least 90% of our body’s serotonin is made in our gut, meaning that in order to have healthy levels of serotonin, we need to keep our gut healthy with good bacteria and a balanced diet.
If you’re having consistent gut health issues like gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation and/or diarrhea, then you may need to test your gut health. Eating foods that are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid found in pumpkin, chia and sunflower seeds, as well as turkey, chicken, quinoa, bananas, oats and eggs, can also assist your body in serotonin production, and potentially help get your sleep cycle back on track.
GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid) is the major neurotransmitter that helps reduce the activity of your central nervous system and allows you to relax as you drift off to sleep.
When levels of GABA are low, deep sleep and REM cycles can become a challenge. People with low GABA levels often wake up during the night and have trouble falling back to sleep, creating frustrating hours of tossing and turning as your morning alarm creeps closer.
Just like serotonin, GABA is also affected by the bacteria in your gut. Did you know that gut bacteria can create neurotransmitters, like serotonin and GABA, that are identical to those produced by our bodies? This means having a healthy microbiome can result in improved GABA levels to improve mood and sleep disorders.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, testing your neurotransmitter levels with Wellnicity’s at-home Brain Balance Test will provide insight into the seven main neurotransmitters, including serotonin and GABA, and can help you figure out what changes are needed to help you get to sleep, stay asleep and feel rested during the day.
Once your gut is healthy and filled with good bacteria, and you have identified which neurotransmitters are out of balance, you can supplement your body with a clinician-recommended customized supplement regimen that will offer appropriate gut health and neurotransmitter support for your unique needs.
Goodbye to nightly tossing and turning!