Sleep, hunger and thirst are all feelings we recognize. But have you ever tried to explain to someone what it feels like to be thirsty? We just assume that every other human has these “feelings” too but we don’t really think about how they occur. None of them are really under your conscious control. They’re run by chemicals from our brain. We learn what to do in response to them in the first few years of life. When we “feel hungry” we learn to eat until we “feel full”, when we “feel thirsty” we learn to drink, until we “don’t feel thirsty”. Attaching these “feelings” to what to do happened so early that we don’t remember the learning process. But it’s important to know that the “feelings“are not consciously generated by you, they are generated by your body, they are “involuntary”. If they’re run by chemicals in the brain then they can get goofed up, just like any other body process. There are people who can’t judge normal thirst and drink too much water. There are people who don’t get the right messages and still feel hungry after eating a large meal. Sleep is involuntary too! People who have normal sleep just lie down and go to sleep. They wake up about 8 hours later feeling great. If this is not what happens to you it’s not because you’re “doing it wrong”, it’s because your brain is malfunctioning.
Most of the experts blame the bad sleeper or the sleep environment. “You sleep too much”, “the room is too light”, “you think too much”, “the room is too warm”, “your husband snores”, “you’re on your phone/computer too much”. My experience with over 5000 neurology patients taught me that sleep is not something you can control. You are not doing something wrong, your sleep switches are malfunctioning. Even though you can’t control the sleep switches, (they really control you) you can give them what they need to repair themselves and start working normally again.
I believe that sleep disorders have become epidemic because of a deficiency of the hormone made on our skin from sunlight, vitamin D. Many parts of our body need this hormone. What might surprise you the most is that the bacteria that live in our intestine need our vitamin D! And that the bacteria that live inside us are an important “organ” of our body, like the liver or the kidney. They aren’t really “us” exactly, but they do accompany us throughout our life and they affect our appetite, our weight, our immune system, and even…. our sleep.