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Supporting Detoxification with Sleep

Supporting Detoxification with Sleep

Our bodies are constantly challenged by environmental toxicities and the continual effort of detoxication. Although dietary support for detoxification is one important leg of the supportive “stool,” so is healthy sleep. So many individuals are sleep deprived today, whether due to nighttime awakenings to care for children or loved ones, a job that is demanding or requires work at evening hours, or chronic health conditions, including chronic infections or heavy metal toxicity, that contribute to insomnia. Many cytokines, inflammatory markers, and hormones are impacted by sleep and the lack thereof.[1],[2],[3]Studies have shown that both acute total and short-term partial sleep restriction increases many pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the body. [4],[5] Not only do these inflammatory markers rise acutely, but this effect can persist beyond the days with diminished sleep, despite normal recovery sleep in subsequent nights.

The integrity of the blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by sleep restriction as well.[6] The blood-brain barrier protects the central nervous system from circulatory proteins and toxins that may contribute to neuroinflammation and damage. An altered blood-brain barrier may contribute to numerous neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and more.[7] Stress also increases permeability of the blood-brain barrier.[8] The stress-associated increase in blood-brain barrier permeability may contribute to increased symptoms with stress in neuroinflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Cleaning up the diet is one thing that can support healthy sleep. By reducing inflammation and its mediators such as histamine, the blood-brain barrier integrity is improved, and related neuroinflammation and excess agitation is diminished.[9] In addition to addressing diet from a larger standpoint, the foods and beverages consumed directly before bed also can have an impact on sleep. If a snack is consumed before bed, it should be higher in protein and fats as this will help keep the blood sugar levels stable through the night. Alcohol also has a negative impact on sleep quality, in part due to the fact that the blood sugar level will fall during the night.[10] As larger meals before bed can contribute to evening symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux, this should be avoided, particularly in susceptible individuals.[11]

Intense exercise later in the day can have a negative impact on sleep, as it leads to a rise in cortisol and catecholamines, promoting a ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic state in the nervous system.[12],[13] Activities that are considered to be good “sleep hygiene” include the avoidance of the use of electronics and other intense blue light sources for at least 1 hour before bed. Blue light has a wakeful effect, and suppresses melatonin secretion.[14],[15] Electronics should not be present in the sleep environment due to their potential distracting effects, and sensitive individuals may find benefit from turning off the WiFi signal in the house.[16]

Detoxification and treatment of chronic infections can improve sleep, particularly in the long run, as doing so reduces systemic and central nervous system inflammation which can negatively affect sleep. On an as needed basis, supplemental therapies can be used to support healthy sleep. Trace minerals support neurotransmitter metabolism and the function of all the enzymatic systems of the body, and can help the body and brain to turn down at night. GABA and L-theanine support alpha wave rhythms in the brain, similar to the relaxed state which occurs with meditation.[17],[18]Cannabinoids, which are endogenous in our body but also found in hemp oil, can also impact sleep, calming neuroinflammation and improving the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. [19],[20], [21]

To learn more, read on at:


[1] Kim TW, Jeong JH, Hong SC. The impact of sleep and circadian disturbance on hormones and metabolism. Int J Endocrinol. 2015;2015:591729. View Full Paper
[2] Meier-Ewert HK, et al. Effect of sleep loss on C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker of cardiovascular risk. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004 Feb 18;43(4):678-83. View Abstract
[3] Vgontzas AN, et al. Chronic insomnia is associated with a shift of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor secretion from nighttime to daytime. Metabolism. 2002 Jul;51(7):887-92. View Abstract
[4] van Leeuwen WM, et al. Sleep restriction increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by augmenting proinflammatory responses through IL-17 and CRP. PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4589. View Full Paper
[5] Chennaoui M, et al. Effect of one night of sleep loss on changes in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels in healthy men. Cytokine. 2011 Nov;56(2):318-24. View Abstract
[6] He J, et al. Sleep restriction impairs blood-brain barrier function. J Neurosci. 2014 Oct 29;34(44):14697-706. View Full Paper
[7] Zlokovic BV. The blood-brain barrier in health and chronic neurodegenerative disorders. Neuron. 2008 Jan 24;57(2):178-201. View Abstract
[8] Esposito P, et al. Corticotropin-releasing hormone and brain mast cells regulate blood-brain-barrier permeability induced by acute stress. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Dec;303(3):1061-6. View Full Paper
[9] Abbott NJ. Inflammatory mediators and modulation of blood-brain barrier permeability. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2000 Apr;20(2):131-47. View Abstract
[10] Freinkel N, et al. Alcohol hypoglycemia. Iv. Current concepts of its pathogenesis. Diabetes. 1965 Jun;14:350-61. View Abstract
[11] Jarosz M, Taraszewska A. Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease: the role of diet. Prz Gastroenterol. 2014;9(5):297-301. View Full Paper
[12] Hill EE, Zack E, Battaglini C, et al. Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect. J Endocrinol Invest. 2008 Jul;31(7):587-91. View Abstract
[13] Dimsdale JE, Moss J. Plasma catecholamines in stress and exercise. JAMA. 1980 Jan 25;243(4):340-2. View Abstract
[14] Viola AU, James LM, Schlangen LJ, Dijk DJ. Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2008 Aug;34(4):297-306. View Abstract
[15] West KE, Jablonski MR, Warfield B, et al. Blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Mar;110(3):619-26. View Full Paper
[16] Warnke U. Electromagnetic Sensitivity of Animals and Humans: Biological. Bioelectrodynamics and Biocommunication. 1994 Oct 17;6:365
[17] Yoto A, Murao S, Motoki M, et al. Oral intake of γ-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids. 2012;43(3):1331–1337. View Abstract
[18] Kakuda T, Nozawa A, Sugimoto A, et al. Inhibition by Theanine of binding of [3H]AMPA, [3H]kainate, and [3H]MDL 105,519 to glutamate receptors. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2002;66(12):2683–2686. View Abstract
[19]Di Marzo V. The endocannabinoid system: its general strategy of action, tools for its pharmacological manipulation and potential therapeutic exploitation. Pharmacol Res. 2009 Aug;60(2):77-84. View Abstract
[20] Walter L, Stella N. Cannabinoids and neuroinflammation. Br J Pharmacol. 2004 Mar;141(5):775-85. View Full Paper
[21] Ramirez SH, et al. Activation of cannabinoid receptor 2 attenuates leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions and blood-brain barrier dysfunction under inflammatory conditions. J Neurosci. 2012 Mar 21;32(12):4004-16. View Full Paper
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