How Insomnia Has Been Linked to Genetics & Sleep Tips for Your Menstrual Cycle

Insomnia Is Linked To Genetics

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This week was filled with interesting research that I think can be very valuable for all of us. There were three sleep studies that I think you will enjoy and get great benefit from reading.

Looking at this first study, I thought it was fascinating that in patients who were above 60 and diagnosed with insomnia, 21% of them had to increase their blood pressure medications.

Unfortunately, we do not know which medications were being used.

Researchers think there may be a few reasons why this could be occurring. First is that when you use a pharmaceutical for sleep, many of them decrease your drive to breathe. This is called respiratory drive and it can be compromised when taking certain sleeping pills like Valium, Restoril, Xanax, etc. This can lead to sleep apnea, and undiagnosed sleep apnea can lead to an elevation in blood pressure. There was also discussion that some of these sleep aids can also affect the cardiac tissue itself.

Next, was another insomnia study that proved my theory of how a Dolphin Chronotype exists; it’s genetics. This is yet another study showing that insomnia has genetic underpinnings. In this study researchers from the UK, followed almost 86,000 people and measured their sleep with a Fitbit type of tech, and mapped their genomes. The researchers appear to have discovered 10 new genetic links to sleep duration and 26 with sleep quality.


We are certainly getting closer to better understanding these genetics. If you think you may have insomnia or just restless sleep, be sure to take my quiz at and learn your chronotype, and be sure to watch my newly published video from my TedX Manhattan Beach Lecture!

The final study looks at women’s health in particular, and how menstrual cycles affect sleep.

Researchers discovered that young women are more likely to experience sleep disruption in the days leading up to their menstrual period, according to a new study presented Saturday at ENDO 2019, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

“Sleep is more disrupted in the several days directly prior to menses in young healthy women,” says Anne E. Kim, a medical student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 25% to 33% of menstruating women in the United States have reported more disrupted sleep during the weeks before and/or during menses. This study by Kim and colleagues validates these perceptions using objective measures, and further documents the negative impact of dieting on sleep.

So, what can you do about it?

Here are some of my tips for sleep if your menstrual cycle is not cooperating:

Increase your intake of liquids to help flush out excess sodium that causes water retention and bloating just before and during your period. This will help decrease any feelings of discomfort that make sleep difficult.

Take extra calcium. In a study commissioned by the manufacturer of Tums (an OTC antacid medication containing calcium carbonate), taking 1,200 milligrams (mg) calcium daily resulted in a 50 percent decrease in PMS symptoms. Bloating was reduced by 36 percent, food cravings by 54 percent, and psychological symptoms by 46 percent. In addition, calcium has sedating properties, which can improve sleep quality.

Take 400 mg magnesium. Studies show that magnesium affects mood by boosting the level of serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter in the brain. When combined with calcium, magnesium is a good muscle relaxant. Of course, being relaxed is important to falling asleep easily.

Take 100 mg vitamin B6, which also helps you produce serotonin. But be careful: In some people, B6 can have an energizing effect.

Starting at 2:00 p.m., eliminate all caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger anxiety, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Don’t drink alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. PMS can cause your blood level of alcohol to get higher than at other times of the month. While drinking alcohol may make you feel sleepier, alcohol also keeps you out of the deep stages of sleep, which are important for feeling refreshed when you awaken.

Here are the interviews I did that were published this week:

In Defense Of The Nap – Pitt News
Find It Harder To Fall Asleep On Sunday Nights? Know Why It Happens – India Times

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Michael Breus, Ph.D - The Sleep Doctor is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and one of only 168 psychologists to pass the Sleep Medical Specialty Board without going to medical school. Dr. Breus is a sought after lecturer and his knowledge is shared daily in major national media worldwide including Today, Dr. Oz, Oprah, and for fourteen years as the sleep expert on WebMD. Dr. Breus is the bestselling author of The Power of When, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan and Good Night!

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