Sleep and Illness:
This site is intended to help you improve your sleep. Medical problems are not just inevitable, time-related deterioration of the body. They are not just from “bad habits”. When we sleep normally we repair every night and everything works, day after day, for years on end. We are self-repairing beings.
I have been helping patients improve their sleep for 10 years, first with sleep apnea masks then sleeping pills and finally with a combination of vitamins. In 2009 I made the accidental discovery that vitamin D deficiency is directly related to sleep problems. (“The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency.” Med Hypotheses. 2012 Aug;79(2):132-5) In 2013 I discovered that vitamin D deficiency results in a change in the intestinal bacteria that make and supply our B Vitamins. (“Vitamin D deficiency changes the intestinal microbiome reducing B vitamin production in the gut….” Med Hypotheses. 2016 Sep;94:103-7) Surprisingly, our intestinal bacteria are related to our sleep. When we all moved indoors and began to avoid the sun a cascade of events, starting with low vitamin D, changed our bodies. There are several, linked vitamin deficiencies that result from our current “indoor life”. Those deficiencies affect our brain’s ability to complete its most important daily responsibility; normal deep sleep.
A “Vitamin” is a chemical we need but cannot make. Some are in food, but many come from the intestinal bacteria that live inside us. Animals successfully lived on this planet for millions of years before humans made up the word “vitamin”. The squirrels in my backyard are not taking vitamins, they don’t even know the term “healthy diet”. They were outside screwing around and missed Ms. Shemanski’s 8th grade class about “healthy diets”. The biology of our bodies was perfect without supplements while we still lived outdoors and had access to a varied diet. One of the most important and unexpected things I learned in the last the 10 years is that vitamin supplements are good for those who are deficient but can hurt those who aren’t. I believe that we still have a lot to learn about vitamins and what constitutes a “normal” blood level. I do not believe that more expensive supplements are necessarily better, and I think that truly “normal” humans don’t need supplements.
The story of vitamin D and sleep:
Sleep is something we have absolutely no control over, it controls us. When all humans lived outdoors we slept from sundown to sunup. Except for infections and injuries medical problems began in the elderly years. In the 1970’s when air conditioning and sunscreen came we stopped making vitamin D on our skin from the sun. When the vitamin D went down our sleep became worse. When the sleep started to fail new problems appeared; sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue. Things that were uncommon became common; autism, ADD, infertility, premature delivery, depression, new allergies. Diseases that used to appear only in the elderly began to appear in the young; heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, autoimmune disease, arthritis, chronic pain, neuropathy, depression, constipation, insomnia, tremor, balance problems and diabetes, just to name a few.
Can it be fixed?
Yes, but it’s complicated and can take months to years. Vitamins don’t fix the body, sleep fixes the body. People who have been sick a long time have not slept normally for a very, very long time! This means that each person has their own time-line of improvement. It’s only by focusing on the many things that help us sleep better that the above described diseases can be slowly reversed. This site is intended to be used with the help of a clinician educated in the RightSleep® technique. RightSleep® uses a specific vitamin regimen but also follows a conceptual framework summarized by Normal Sleep = Repair and Abnormal Sleep leads, inevitably to disease. If you read the http://drgominak.com/sleep/Sleep page and http://drgominak.com/vitamin-d-hormone/Vitamin D hormone page completely you will have everything you need to do this yourself, but it takes a commitment to keeping good records of your vitamin D blood levels and your symptoms over time.
Sleep and Neurologic problems:
Genetic disorders come from small variations or “mutations” in our genes, our DNA. They are inherited diseases, they travel in families. There are many neurological problems that come from gene mutations. Tremor, epilepsy, migraine, vertigo, depression, Parkinson’s and anxiety are all things that travel in families. “But if I’ve had that little mutation my whole life why did I just have my first seizure at age 45?” What just changed? The chemicals that we use to run our nervous system, and every other organ in our body, get used up as we go through the day. When we don’t sleep normally and our chemical stores don’t get replenished, we start operating on the edge of normal, then we start to malfunction. Each individual has their own inherited weaknesses that show up once they can no longer repair in sleep.
Drugs and Sleep:
Sleeping medications are not dangerous when used intelligently. Some of you will only be able to achieve normal sleep with them. All of the drugs that make us sleepy are accidental copies of the chemicals our bodies use normally. Vitamins do not make you sleepy, they are the building blocks that the sleep switches use to make the normal sleep chemicals. Then, after we sleep better we make our own chemicals again and we won’t need the drugs. But repair of the sleep switches doesn’t happen while we’re awake! That means if you need a sleep apnea mask or an oral appliance ( a mouthpiece that your dentist can make to move the jaw forward during sleep) to stay in deep sleep then that is what you need. If you don’t have apnea you won’t be using an apea mask. Everyone is different and RightSleep®is an approach that includes every possible intervention that might make your sleep return to normal.
Everything I have posted on this site comes from my patients’ own observations about their bodies. Some are brand new ideas, they may not turn out to be “the truth” eventually. But all of the “truths” in medicine are really just ideas. Our bodies did not come with a User’s Manual so the only absolute truth in medicine is your observation of your own body. Hopefully these ideas will help you, and you will sleep better and feel better.
About Dr. Walter Stumpf:
Many of my ideas about vitamin D are based upon the extensive scientific work of Dr. Walter Stumpf who, sadly, passed away at the end of 2012. He was an amazing scientist who single-handedly clarified one of the most important aspects of our endocrine system. Despite the widespread skepticism of his colleagues and repeated rejections of his journal submissions he continued to believe in the validity of his concept of “soltriol”. His many journal articles describe Vitamin D’s actions, and its integration into our endocrine system made up of a triad of gonadal, adrenal and dermal steroids. He endured severe criticism from his colleagues for 30 years of professional life and still believed that he was right. It was my pleasure to meet Walter and to get to know him before his death. Together we added the idea that soltriol is necessary for normal sleep. I think of him daily as I teach my patients about the important role vitamin D plays in our biology.